BookBrowse Reviews The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

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The Book That Matters Most

A Novel

by Ann Hood

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood X
The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 368 pages

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The Book That Matters Most, a novel about love and loss and the power of the written word, will appeal to lovers of books and book clubs.

BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters Most, which addresses familiar themes of love and loss. An impressive percentage of readers rated the novel 4 or 5 stars.

Readers loved the story, which is centered on book clubs and their purpose

Ava, the protagonist, wins a coveted spot in a long-standing book club at the beginning of their new reading season. They will read and discuss the books that have meant the most to each of them. All the participants find themselves changed by the messages each gets from the books. Re-reading their favorites brings a lot of introspection as well as new perspectives (Jan P). The book follows Ava, a woman who is divorced and bitter about the situation, who reluctantly joins her friend's book club. The theme of the year is "the book that matters most" to each member of the book club. Intermingled with the book club meetings is the story of Ava's daughter who has gone off to study abroad (Tracey S).

Book lovers love this story about books

This is a multi-faceted story of how books affect us. Ann Hood explores how the written word has the capacity to influence our lives more often than once, in more ways than one (Jan P). It tells the stories of broken hearts, broken families, broken relationships...and the healing balm of books (Gail K). A wonderful reminder that books are like people that turn up in your life when you most need them (Shirin M).

...and the larger themes that are gracefully touched upon

The many sides of grief are laid out for the reader to choose from for engaging with empathy. The classic mother-daughter dynamic is explored and there is a depth of understanding exhibited in these pages that is truly heartbreaking. The terrifying world of addiction and the youthful vulnerability to predators is as horrifying as the forest of grief. You may not like these characters but you will not be able to look away (Claire M).

A few reviewers found the book to be a tad flawed

There's a lot to discuss because of various themes (death, addiction, loss of parent), however a couple of the resolutions seem hurried and not fully developed (Leslie D). The Book That Matters Most has more potential than was realized. The storyline is really intriguing and kept me turning pages but the characters are not likable or well developed (Janell C).

...but many readers recommend the novel heartily

Told from multiple points of view, the novel is at different times, heartbreaking, poignant and uplifting. I found it to be a compelling read — and a delicious little twist at the end was the frosting on the cake. Pick up this novel if you are looking for an emotion- packed story with a satisfying conclusion (Gail K). Ann Hood's words spoke to the losses I have lived through in my life. It made me cry and it made my heart smile. I cannot match the circumstances of these lives with mine and I cannot say I identify with any of the characters. Yet this book wove such a web around me, my thoughts, and my emotions. If you have experienced great pain of loss, this novel may be especially for you. But this may also be a "book that matters" for everyone! (Shirley H).

Book clubs will love this novel

This is a great book for book clubs with plenty of themes for discussion: divorce, parenting and personal growth. The added bonus of additional books to read will be much appreciated (Barbara O). The terrain of the book group is quite familiar — I lead discussion groups — and is authentically communicated. What lengths we facilitators will go to with gourmet treats to draw out the introvert bookworm! (Claire M). Although I'm glad that the book club I lead isn't organized the way the one in this novel is, there are some wonderful insights on great books (and suggestions for reading lists) that could be useful to book groups (Sally H).

This review was originally published in August 2016, and has been updated for the August 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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