The Book That Matters Most will be released on August 9, 2016.
The story alternates back and forth between Ava, whose husband of 25 years has left her for another woman, and Ava’s daughter, Maggie, who is in Italy to study art history. Both and Maggie are experiencing new things, however vastly different in scope and with thousands of miles between them. Maggie has had a troubled past, and Ava is encouraged that her daughter is now on the right path. Little does she know, Maggie is going to leave Italy and find so much more trouble in France.
Ava is invited to join a lucrative book club to which her best friend belongs, when one of the other book club members moves out of town. The book club is like a family, members taking turns driving one member to chemo and attending each other’s family celebrations. The book club only allows 12, so that each member is able to pick a selection for one month of the year. Each year there is a different theme for the book club, and for Ava’s inaugural year, the theme is “the book that matters most to you.” Ava thinks back to a somewhat mysterious book she remembers reading during her childhood, a book that helped her to carry on after her little sister died in an accident and then her mother left them. She chooses this book, but soon realizes that it is very hard to find a copy. In a moment of panic, wanting to fit in with the book club, she tells a little fib that the author will be joining them for a talk during they month they read her choice. Now she is having trouble locating the author, so she turns to an old friend for help.
The Book Club gives Ava a purpose and fills a void in her life, which was growing with heartache, guilt, and grief from the loss of Lily, her mother, and her husband. Getting to know the other book club members is cathartic for her and allows her to feel almost normal again.
As a librarian, I loved this book because it focused on a close-knit book club, included literary quotes and lively discussion of some classic and modern literature, and most of all explored the ways that literature can change one’s outlook in life. The subject matter is definitely mature and adult in nature because of descriptive sex scenes and recreational drug usage. The ending was cool; even though I suspected what would happen prior to reaching the final pages. Overall, I truly enjoyed the story because it was unique and a perfect tribute to books and their power in our lives. I would recommend it highly! Let me know what you think.
Thank you to W. W. Norton & Company for the advanced review copy.