Fabulous Fiction Firsts #788
Wed, 08/25/2021 - 6:56pm by muffy
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot
“The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.” ~ Katherine Mansfield
The Reading List * * by Sara Nisha Adams (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook). 17 year-old Aleisha, a summer desk clerk, is the first to find the list between pages of a returned book at the Harrow Road Library. It reads JUST IN CASE YOU NEED IT, followed by eight titles: To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca, The Kite Runner, The Life of Pi, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Beloved, and A Suitable Boy.
Just then, grieving widower Mukesh approaches the desk, intent to return a much-overdue copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife he found among his wife Naina’s things. Never a reader, he nevertheless enjoyed the story and the opportunity to honor Naina's memory, he asked for Aleisha’s recommendations. Caught unprepared, Aleisha remembered the list. Intrigued, and a little bored, stuck at home, unable to reach her mentally-fragile mother, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list as well. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between them.
As it happens, the same list shows up at the shoe rack at the yoga studio, the bulletin board at the local supermarket, the bus stop, and the community garden, drawing lonely strangers into the library and each other’s company.
“Full of references to popular and classic novels, this debut focuses on reading as a means of processing and coping with challenging life events. The author deftly captures the quiet and listless vibe of ill-fated libraries everywhere. Told from the perspectives of both Aleisha and Mukesh, as well as a sampling of other characters, the story shows an insightful empathy for difficulties faced at divergent life stages. The author explores many difficult topics with grace, like mental illness, grief, abandonment, and self-doubt...A quiet and thoughtful look into loneliness, community, and the benefits of reading, suited for true bibliophiles.“ (Kirkus Reviews)
* * = 2 starred reviews