“The Book That Matters Most” by Ann Hood is a novel about the rediscovery of the power of literature. Every character in this novel is affected by something they read.
Ava North has joined a book group led by her best friend Cate, the librarian. The theme for the year is to pick the novel that matters to you most. Bit by bit, Ava begins to enjoy the book group at her local library, in Providence, R.I., makes new friends and rediscovers her love of reading.
A year later, Ava is still experiencing the grief of being left by her husband of 25 years for another woman. This also brought back the pain of losing both her sister and mother early in her life.
She is also an empty nester as her college-age daughter, Maggie, is off studying in Paris, but becomes involved in drugs while her son, Will, is in Africa studying gorillas.
Now that she has to choose a book that mattered to her she rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood that helped her through her early traumas.
She tells the book group she will bring the author Rosalind Arden to their meeting, but no copies seem to exist. Finding Ms. Arden is an important theme, as is Ava’s challenge to get her life back on track.
The author is skilled in writing about loss, sympathetic characters, and the healing power of books. The narrative moves among the different characters and back and forth in time.
Readers can think about why they read, what books matter, and why some books are so very important to them.