#Book Review: The Library

Author: Bella Osborne

The Library is a book by Bella Osborne, a British author who turned up for me in searches when I was googling about British authors who write about communities following my enthusiasm for books by Libby Page and Sally Page.

Image from Amazon

A few of us decided to form a book club in the College and needless to say yours truly is a coordinator and an instigator of this activity that originally started in the UK when I first formed a book club as part of the #WECAN project where I was the research lead. Since I instigated the whole thing, I was also asked to propose the first book, so I carried on with celebrating British authors who write about communities and whose books have a feel-good element without being a romance, which I personally do not like very much.

The Library is a book about the unusual friendship between an old lady in her 70s and a 16-year-old teenager who became friends in a local library. Tom starts going to the library after his drunken father breaks his Xbox. He is a lonely child with no friends, other than online gaming friends and his Xbox was his life. After losing the only thing that had meaning for him and that kept him going whilst being alone at home, due to his father working evening and night shifts, he started to go to the library to read romance books in the hope he would understand girls, and particularly his crush Farah, better. There he meets Maggie, a widow who lives alone and suffers from loneliness, with her days filled with struggle on how to keep herself busy and fill her day. Because she needed someone to occasionally talk to, and despite not being keen on all women in the book club, she joined the local library and started to attend a book club due to being an avid reader anyway.

Throughout the book, we learn more about Tom’s and Maggie’s lives, as well as about the library and what it means to the community. When the council decided to shut down the library, Maggie and Tom joined efforts to save it and mobilize the community. However, this is not a book about saving the library. It is first and foremost, a book about loneliness, friendships, love for books and the world they open to people and how they can bring people together as well as a book about life choices and how they affect people. It is also a story of hardship and how books and friendships can help overcome them including meeting and befriending your crush in a library and then considering whether having anything happen is worth sacrificing or whether friendship and a shared passion for books is a better option, which was poignantly described in the book.

There are also elements of British humor and culture, which I enjoyed and this is also a class story not just because it happens in the Midlands, a traditional working-class area, but also because Tom’s father wants Tom to take an apprenticeship in a local dog food factory rather than going to the University, which seems abstract to him and Tom faces a struggle with his father’s alcoholism as well as his reluctance to accept Tom’s choices.

Finally, the book is also a story of loving farms, agriculture, nature, and the environment, portrayed in a lovely way through Maggie, an old hippie and a yoga practitioner.

I loved this book!

Thank you for reading!

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