"Engagingly offbeat . . . the van becomes as much of a vehicle of fantasy as the Little Prince's biplane or James's giant peach. . . genuinely compelling." Guardian
Twelve-year-old Bobby Nusku is an archivist of his mother. He catalogues traces of her life and waits for her to return home.
Bobby thinks that he's been left to face the world alone until he meets lonely single mother Val and her daughter Rosa. They spend a magical summer together, discovering the books in the mobile library where Val works as a cleaner. But as the summer draws to a close, Bobby finds himself in trouble and Val is in danger of losing her job. There's only one thing to do -- and so they take to the road in the mobile library...
Quirky, dark, magical and full of heart, Mobile Library is both a tragicomic road trip and a celebration of the adventures that books can take us on. It's a love-letter to unlikely families and the stories that shaped us.
PRAISE FOR DAVID WHITEHOUSE
"Powerful, eccentric . . . Whitehouse's writing is energetic and pacey, spiked with startling moments of tenderness and superbly controlled. Don't wait for the inevitable film." The Times
"Whitehouse cleverly illustrates the way in which lives and books intertwine." Daily Mail
After a thrashing by his abusive father and a schoolyard fight, young Bobby Nusku takes refuge with a neighborhood cleaning lady, Val, and her disabled daughter, Rosa, all the while pining for his mysteriously absent mother. Piling into a recently deactivated mobile library vehicle that Val maintains on weekends, Val and her charges run away. On their journey, they meet Joe, a gangly ex-soldier drifter, and decide to pose as a family as they evade the authorities in England and head towards a safe haven in Scotland. The group bonds while consuming classic literature, stealing supplies, and painting the vehicle to appear less conspicuous, yet Bobby cannot forget his past. He pores over artifacts of his mother that he's meticulously kept in jars and folders, waiting for the day of her return. Whitehouse's narrative provides moments of charm and whimsy, particularly as characters take on storybook personas (the Caveman, the Zookeeper, the Hunter), but the abrupt perspective shifts, often multiple times per chapter, are occasionally clumsy, and the narrative's voyage is intermittently striking. When stacked against the literary gems Bobby and his crew read throughout, from The Little Prince to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Whitehouse's novel feels ordinary.