The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood– 354 pages
Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood—one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.
My Review: 4 stars
The Book That Matters Most is the perfect work of chick lit for book lovers, no matter what they like to read on a regular basis. This group of everyday people, from different walks of life, all treasure their time spent in this book club. How and why a public library can only allow 10 people in this group seemed a little odd, but I realize now in reflection that they call this an athenaeum, which may be a ‘member’s only’ library collection.
The characters were well fleshed out and you got a good peek into even the more the minor players. I felt the main protagonist, Ava, was too lost and naïve that she had no idea what was going on within her own marriage, but that didn’t stop me from liking her. I completely related to her commentary and feelings while her daughter studied abroad. I loved when my daughter sent pictures of all the incredible places she visited – but I wanted to see her face. The daughter, Maggie, was a great addition to the story line and brought attention to the subject of drug abuse and reckless behavior among students.
The plot, that indeed reflected the title of the book, was so charming it made me want to reread some of the books they mentioned. It was curious and insightful to see the ‘why’ behind the books chosen. I totally believe that that the book that matters most to a reader happens based on the time it’s chosen to be read, and where that reader is emotionally. Beyond the theme of books, there’s romance, divorce, friendship, parenting, travel and a good mystery all with in the underlying plot.
I haven’t read Ann Hood before but I see one of her earlier works was based on knitting circle, so I did think that wise of her to include the Knit Bomber into this book. If you’re more interested in books about books, I suggest The End Of Your Life Book Club.
I felt a book about books and their inherent value to readers could’ve had richer cover art yet I understand she had to stay true to her audience. Great book for anyone who loves to read.
Quotes I liked:
When you read a book, and who you are when you read it, makes it matter or not.”
-“Could a writer understand how her book had saved someone long ago, when the world was a fragile, scary place and the people she loved weren’t in it anymore? Could a writer understand that her book had mattered more than anything?”
-“Fitzgerald once said that you don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”
-“But were middle-aged couples who’d been together for over two decades even supposed to be in love? Whatever that meant?”
-“No one who reads can ever be bored.”
-“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” – George Bernard Shaw