BETWEEN THE LINES

The Book That Matters Most

July 6, 2016

Tags: The Book That Matters Most, Ann Hood

I just finished reading THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST, Ann Hood’s brand-new novel. Few authors capture loss and grief, hope and connection like Hood, and in this book she weaves those powerful themes with one of my absolute favorites – reading books in groups, and how novels both speak to our individual sorrows and connect us with others.

Ava’s husband has left her for a yarn-bomber (Ann Hood’s fans will appreciate this!) and her daughter Maggie is out of touch and in trouble in Paris when Ava’s best friend Cate invites her to join her library book group. The theme is “the book that matters most” and each member chooses a book for one of the monthly discussions. Ava chooses FROM CLARE TO HERE, the book that saved her life the summer after her sister died and her mother killed herself, and she promises to bring the author to the discussion.

The book discussions (ANNA KARENINA, THE GREAT GATSBY, CATCHER IN THE RYE) are both fun in themselves and in the responses they evoke from the group members. Ava finds herself revisiting her childhood losses as her own daughter struggles with her own demons in Paris. The chapters from Maggie’s perspective, as she flees her study-abroad program and gets into increasingly dangerous situations, provide a thoughtful mirror to Ava’s process as she faces her own losses.

This novel has a mystery at its core and it has emotional depth. The story made me weep, but never lose hope that people can deal with past pain and can heal. Most of all, THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST reminds us of the power of reading, and the many ways that books connect us to each other and to the world.

Pub date is August 9, but click on the photo to pre-order the book.