Monday, April 24, 2017

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Reviewed by Rita

If you had to choose the book that matters most to you, what would it be? That is the question that sparks Ava’s journey of self-discovery.

Ava is still reeling from her husband of twenty-five years leaving her for another woman. It‘s been a year since Jim left, but considering he and his much younger mistress live in the same neighborhood as Ava, it is proving difficult for her to move on. Her two children are both grown and living out of the country which is a great source of worry where her daughter, Maggie, is concerned.

Ava’s best friend, Cate, is in charge of a monthly book club at the local library and Ava decides the book club is just the distraction she needs. During her first club meeting, Cate announces the theme for the year is going to be The Book That Matters Most. Ava struggles to think of a book that has mattered most in her life. When it’s her turn to choose when she finds herself giving the title of a book that she hasn’t thought of since childhood. When Ava was a child her younger sister, Lily, died in a freak accident. A year later, Ava lost her mother who could not cope with the loss of her daughter. It was during this time that Ava read From Clare to Here - the book that mattered most to her. The only problem is no one can find any copies of this book. Ava has promised the club a visit from the author, Rosalind Arden, only to discover that she cannot be found either. Ava begins to search for the author and ends up finding more than she ever expected.

The book alternates between Ava’s story and her daughter Maggie’s. Maggie is supposed to be studying abroad, but instead finds herself in a dangerous relationship with an older man in Paris. This is where I struggled with this novel. While the two storylines are eventually brought together, they felt really disconnected right up until the end. I wasn’t really that interested in Maggie’s pernicious escapades in Paris. I didn’t feel like Maggie’s arc furthered the storyline and even when it was all tied together it fell flat for me. I started out optimistic but was ultimately underwhelmed.

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