Monday, April 3, 2017

The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood

I really enjoyed this book - it was part mystery, part character study and part book club.  The premise of the book and the reason for the title is that the main character, Ava, joins a new book club.  She has just split from her husband who left her for another woman and has only half paid attention to the instructions for the book club chaired by her good friend.  Thus when she arrives to the first meeting, really hoping to make some friends and fill her time, she is surprised to discover she must provide her book suggestion for the group.  And the theme is the book that has mattered most to you in your life.  Not at all prepared for the question, Ava blurts out the name of a book that helped her during a difficult year of her childhood (her younger sister died falling out of a tree and a year later her mother committed suicide).

The problem is that as members of the book club search for the book they have trouble finding it.  So Ava blurts out that the author has agreed to speak to the club.  The only problem is that both the author and the book's publisher seem to have disappeared.  Ava's search for them leads to her further examining that horrible year in her childhood - including interacting with the now retired police officer who investigated the case.

Interwoven with this story is that of the story of Ava's daughter, Maggie.  Maggie is a twenty year old who has been in trouble with drugs, alcohol and boys since she was a young teenager.  Her parents think she is better and have sent her to Florence for an art history program.  Shortly after starting the program she follows a boy to Paris and gets in deeper with the wrong man and drug addiction.  All this time she hides where she is from her parents by posting on social media about her fabricated adventures in art school.  Ava is worried but it takes a considerable amount of time before she learns where Maggie really is.

Ava eventually decides to travel to Paris where she finds answers to Maggie's whereabouts as well as further clarification about her past.  I felt I should have guessed the ending a little earlier than I did, but I didn't so I won't share it here.  Suffice it to say I found it fascinating the way loose ends were tied together.

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