From journalist and author Sue Halpern comes a wry, observant look at contemporary life and its refugees. Halpern’s novel is an unforgettable tale of family...the kind you come from and the kind you create.
People are drawn to libraries for all kinds of reasons. Most come for the books themselves, of course; some come to borrow companionship. For head librarian Kit, the public library in Riverton, New Hampshire, offers what she craves most: peace. Here, no one expects Kit to talk about the calamitous events that catapulted her out of what she thought was a settled, suburban life. She can simply submerge herself in her beloved books and try to forget her problems.
But that changes when fifteen-year-old, home-schooled Sunny gets arrested for shoplifting a dictionary. The judge throws the book at Sunny—literally—assigning her to do community service at the library for the summer. Bright, curious, and eager to connect with someone other than her off-the-grid hippie parents, Sunny coaxes Kit out of her self-imposed isolation. They’re joined by Rusty, a Wall Street high-flyer suddenly crashed to earth.
In this little library that has become the heart of this small town, Kit, Sunny, and Rusty are drawn to each other, and to a cast of other offbeat regulars. As they come to terms with how their lives have unraveled, they also discover how they might knit them together again and finally reclaim their stories.
Halpern's clever and touching latest (following A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home) unites a disparate cast of characters who have come to the town library for a variety of reasons. Kit is a reference librarian at the library in Riverton, N.H., a once-booming mill town that has declined since the mills closed. Though residents moved away and shops were shuttered, the library has remained open, and Kit has taken refuge there to escape her irreparably fractured marriage. Kit is mostly a loner who takes solace in books, but she opens up to Sunny, a teen sentenced to community service at the library for stealing a dictionary. Sunny, a bright, inquisitive young woman, makes friends with the regular library patrons and manages to put some cracks in Kit's carefully erected shell as they spend more time together. Sunny also befriends library patron Rusty, an unemployed former employee of a New York investment firm who has come to town to visit the bank where his mother had a secret savings account. Rusty's story line gives the novel a light mystery element, but the characters are the highlight here: their relationships are illuminating and evolve throughout, resulting in a crowd-pleasing tale of friendship.