The Library by Bella Osborne | Book Review

“If she’d realised the last time she was hugged was significant she would have paid more attention, committed it to memory so she could recall the sensations at will for the many times since, when all she had needed had been for someone to hold her.”

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.

21. The Library

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*.

About Photo: In order to save the library, the members decide to start a library on wheels – a way for the elderly, who are unable to visit, to still have access to books.
This papercraft bookmobile is made from a template designed by Bob Staake, and is printed and cut on 220gsm ivory paper. 21. The Libraryb
About the Author: Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel, It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.
She lives in the Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).
You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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*Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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