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THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST
BOOK REVIEW
The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood was the January pick for my book club.  The title intrigued me and the book lived up to my expectations of an interesting and pleasant read.  The power of books to entertain, educate and heal is a common theme in many novels about bookstores, book clubs and reading.  My most disappointing read in this genre was The Little Paris Bookshop.  The story line was very captivating: an apothecary bookshop on a Paris barge, with a bookseller who prescribed books to customers to heal them.  How could it go wrong? Well, it did for me.  I didn't even finish the book because I didn't really care about the characters.
 
This novel by Ann Hood wasn't universally loved by critics because of its sentimentally and predictably, but it totally worked for me.  The narrative switches back and forth between Ava North and her daughter Maggie and I grew to really care about these characters.  Ava has dealt with grief and guilt since childhood over the death of her five year old sister and the subsequent suicide of her mother.  She is now dealing with the loss of her husband of 25 years, who has left her for a younger woman.  She joins a book club hoping for a deeper connection to people.  Maggie, who has never quite gotten her act together, is supposedly studying art history in Florence, Italy. In actuality, she is being kept by an older man in Paris and descending deeper and deeper into drug addiction. 
 
The book club Ava joins, run by her librarian friend, chooses a different theme for their reading each year.  The theme when Ava joins is for each member to choose the book that has mattered the most to them in their lives.
Most of the choices are fairly predictable:  To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher In The Rye, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Great Gatsby, etc.. Ava chooses From Clare To Here, the book from childhood that helped her cope with the loss of her sister and mother.
 
I don't want to have to do any spoiler alerts so I won't say any more about the development of the story line.  There are twists and turns and surprises in store for you.  Even though the novel deals with loss and drug addiction the author isn't heavy handed with it.  The book is actually quite humorous.  I laughed out loud when I was reading the first chapter and was drawn right into the story.
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