Teenager Tom has always blended into the background of life. After a row with his dad and facing an unhappy future at the dog food factory, he escapes to the library.
Pensioner Maggie has been happily alone with her beloved novels for ten years – at least, that’s what she tells herself.
When they meet, they recognise something in each other that will change both their lives forever.
Then the library comes under threat of closure, and they must join forces to prove that it’s not just about books – it’s the heart of their community.
They are determined to save it – because some things are worth fighting for.
The other day I was randomly scrolling through my Read Shelf on Goodreads and made an interesting observation. Since I revived my reading habit in 2015, I have read at least one title every year on the subject of books and/or libraries. Whether historical or contemporary fiction, or non-fiction, I’m always drawn to the subject such that I am unable to resist the books I come across.
The Library by Bella Osborne is about two people finding solace from the adversity of their lives, in the company of books. Books bring them to each other and the unlikeliest of friendships is formed between the two.
Sixteen-year-old Tom likes Farah Shah in his class but he lacks the courage to approach her. With no one to turn to for help, he steps into the library and delves into romance novels, or, as he refers to them, self-help guides for useless men. He finds they’re great for disappearing into a story even though he dreads the shame of being discovered. Before long he is addicted and learns to find creative ways to continue reading them in secret.
Maggie, a seventy-two-year old-pensioner, looks forward to her book club meetings at the library every Saturday to break away from the monotony of her life at the farm. In observing Tom, she learns his secret and offers her recommendations of books he might enjoy, without letting him on that he has been discovered.
When Christine, the librarian, informs the members that the council has decided to shut down the library, Maggie and Tom join hands to rally support to prevent its closure.
Tom craves a place to escape from his alcoholic father who refuses to listen to him. He must also learn to stand up to the school bully, and make sure he gets his grades up so he can apply to University. Maggie needs to overcome her grief, stop blaming herself for her past, and let the scars heal.
Told from both Tom and Maggie’s perspective, the surface story is about a small village community coming together to save their only asset. In doing so, two troubled souls are able to acknowledge their fears and help each other conquer them.
There is a sensitivity with which the story has been written and you feel the pain the characters experience in their journeys. Both Tom and Maggie have strong opinions even though Tom may take some time to express himself. Their rocky path to friendship is slow and awkward but you’re impressed by the steady progress they make.
There are light hearted moments too, such as when Tom’s addiction for romance novels is discovered. Or when he is roped in to be a farmhand – a job he is not prepared to handle.
You’ll find yourself rooting not only for the library to be saved, but Tom and Maggie, too. For when it comes to friendship, age has no bar.
A profoundly charming story of family, friendship, and new beginnings, this is a magic potion that will instantly lift your spirits.
The Library by Bella Osborne. This edition published in May 2022 by Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Aria & Aries.
Book 21 of 2022.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.
Available on Amazon*.
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