What is the book that matters most to you? That’s the question members of an exclusive book club must answer in Ann Hood‘s aptly titled novel, The Book That Matters Most: A Novel. For one of the club’s newest members, Ava, the novel she chooses holds more secrets and meaning than she realizes when she blurts out a title.
The Book That Matters Most follows Ava and her daughter, Maggie, as they navigate a fateful year spent on different continents. At home in the U.S., Ava’s been dumped, but is making an effort to work through her pending divorce from her husband of 25 years. Meanwhile, college student Maggie is rattling around Europe, but finds herself sidetracked by an older man who keeps her clothed, fed, housed — and addicted.
The book that matters most to Ava is an old and hard-to-find title, From Clare to Here. After her sister and mother died within a year of each other, she spent a summer reading and re-reading the book from cover to cover. When she went back to school that fall, Ava shelved From Clare to Here, never to pick it up again.
After being left for a younger woman, Hood’s protagonist has a serious inferiority complex. She feels unable to keep up with the book club’s other choices, which include Pride and Prejudice and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Confronted with her fellow book club members’ frustration at not being able to find copies of the book that matters most to her, Ava claims to have convinced the author to come and speak at their meeting. There’s just one problem: Ava’s had a hard time finding her own copy of From Clare to Here, and she isn’t sure that the woman who wrote it is still alive.
Although Hood’s novel certainly has its dark moments, The Book That Matters Most is a feel-good read with plenty of mystery and suspense. Ava’s story is perfect for book nerds who love reading about reading and talking about the books that matter most to others.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.
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