Welcome to a recurring review feature (I hope!) of Books about Books

Book: Mobile Library
Author: David Whitehouse
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Genre: Literary Fiction



Bobby Nusku is nearly alone in the world. He spends his nights meticulously archiving the traces his long-absent mother left behind. He spends his days plotting with his only friend, Sunny, trying to contrive ways to protect himself from neighborhood bullies and an abusive father. But the stories they tell and the realities they live are painfully far apart, and when Sunny is forced to move away, Bobby fears he has no one else to turn to.

Then Bobby encounters two outcasts like himself: Rosa, a girl with a red tricycle who collects names in her notebook and whose disability invites the scorn of the same bullies that haunt Bobby; and Val, her mother, a lonely divorcee who cleans the town’s mobile library for work. They connect deeply, filling the gaps in each other’s lives, but the bond between the older woman and young boy also draws the town’s suspicion and outrage, as rumors begin to fly about the nature of their relationship. Val loses her job, Bobby is beaten severely by his father, and, with worse sure to follow, they abscond with Rosa in their sixteen-wheel bookmobile, embarking on a picaresque adventure that comes to rival those in the classic books that fill their library on wheels. (Via Goodreads).

My rating: 3 stars out of 5

Mobile Library is full of lovely lines and quotable quotes about the power of books and stories.

David Whitehouse has a way with words. He uses prose in memorable, lilting ways to create very quotable quotes. His characters are real people that we all know or have seen around our cities. They all have a purpose, they all have layers, they all have stories.

A sweet story of the power of family–and the fact that a family doesn’t have to be related by blood.

This novel starts with an intriguing glimpse at the end of the book. This prologue is also a disturbing, with a twelve-year-old boy kissing the mother of his thirteen-year-old friend. The kiss is not described more than that and at least one reviewer I’ve read stopped reading the book at that point because it made her uncomfortable. But I think that was David’s goal–to show how something innocent can be misconstrued and distorted.

It took me a long time to get into this book, more than my usual fifty pages. It pushed through, and I’m glad I did. I gave it a few more pages than normal, and it finally grabbed me. I started to get it. There were some confusing point-of-view shifts and Bobby seemed a lot younger than twelve, but overall, it’s worth a read.

I enjoyed getting to know Bobby, Rosa and Val. Their situations were so real, and their adventure incredibly touching. This story felt like it could actually happen. And the continual re-enforcement of the importance of stories and books and libraries had me nodding my head throughout.

Some quotes I noted down:

“In every book is a clue about life.”
“There were no windows, yet there were thousands of windows, in every book on every shelf.”
“Family. A puzzle of people.”
“Books are nothing until they’re opened. Stories aren’t stories unless they’re told.”
Images via Goodreads 

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