REVIEW: THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST, BY ANN HOOD

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It was December when Ava Tucker decided to join the book group, at the invitation of her friend Cate.

Her husband of twenty-five years, Jim, the man she had thought would be with her forever, had left her a few months before for the crazy “yarn bomber,” Delia Lindstrom.

She wasn’t sure if the worst part was who he left her for…or the fact that he had.

In Providence, R.I., the book group has special plans for the New Year. Each month, the members will choose a book that has especially mattered in their lives. Ava has chosen a book called “From Clare to Here,” by Rosalind Arden, a book she read in the early 1970s after the tragic deaths of her sister Lily and her mother Charlotte.

Planning to enjoy the books, the first obstacle for Ava is finding even one copy of that book she loved so much. Or the publisher. Or even the author.

Meanwhile, her daughter Maggie has dropped out of the art program she was attending in Florence and followed a boy to Paris, unbeknownst to the family.

Alternate narrators take us through the year with Ava and Maggie, as each of them struggle with their choices. For Maggie, bad men and drugs are her downfall, among others, and for Ava, it is learning to let go of her marriage…and to find the book and/or author of her chosen read for the upcoming month of November.

The Book That Matters Most also dips into the past, back to 1970, when Ava’s mother Charlotte made her own unfortunate choices, and how those informed her life. A man named Hank Bingham, a police detective, also figured into her story.

What will happen to Ava and Maggie in the present? How does Hank Bingham showing up in Ava’s life alter her course? How will she find her special book? What unexpected detour will her path take that reinforces how much that special book meant to her?

I loved this book, enjoying the characters, fleshed out and real, and the unexpected moments throughout as each character shared his or her special book. The story reminded me of my own favorites over the years, and, as one member declared, realizing that more than one book can matter most to us over time, as our memorable book changes, depending on what we’re going through at the time. Those books that strike a chord at challenging junctures in our lives will be memorable to us. Rating:

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4 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST, BY ANN HOOD

    • Thanks, Katherine, I was also delighted that the various threads brought out so many themes, and reminded me of books I have loved over the years. The characters were ones I really could root for, even the problematic Maggie.

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