Reviewed by Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Rating: 4 stars
Ann Hood's latest novel is told from the perspective of a recent divorcee named Ava who seeks companionship in the form of her friend Cate's book club. Every year the book club members select one book based on a theme and this theme is "the book that matters most". Ava selects a book that helped her cope through two childhood tragedies as her book, only to find out that book is not available. Out of desperation to be accepted as a member of the club, Ava embarks upon a quest to find out what happened to the mysterious author and her inexplicably out of print book. While this mysterious unfolds, Ava's daughter Maggie is fighting her own demons in Paris while her family is unaware of her location or just how severely troubled she is.
This book has its own share of troublesome plot points; both in its predictability and its incredulousness but Hood' makes no claims that her books are any important works of literary fiction and there is a comfort in the predictability. Reading an Ann Hood book is often like slipping on your favorite pair of cozy pajamas; you don't have to think or expand your horizons- all you have to do is enjoy your experience. This sensation is further enhanced by the Providence area locations of most of her books.
Yet within this easy comfort, Hood does pose a philosophical question to her reader; one that I am still pondering : what is the book that matters most to you? As a prolific reader, I feel as though I am forced to declare a favorite child but to know the answer is to know what book shaped you as the reader you have become.