The Book That Matters Most is the 12th fiction novel by Ann Hood. This is the first time I’m hearing of this particular author, but after doing some research, I realize I’ve clearly got a lot to catch up on.
Her works include: 12 fiction novels, 7 non-fiction, 2 Young Adult novels, and a short story collection. I also read somewhere that she’s written a ten-book series for “middle readers” – I’m assuming this means “middle grade” and not “middle age”.
The counts above might not be up to date, but regardless, how am I only hearing of Ann Hood for the first time now? She’s been publishing stories since 1987!
I had the pleasure of reading this for book club, and if it wasn’t selected for me, I wouldn’t have found this gem.
The Club of The Book That Matters Most
The Book That Matters Most is about a woman named Ava, who is slowly coming to terms with her unfaithful husband, leaving her for another woman.
In an effort to find her identity again, Ava joins an exclusive book club, which promptly announces the theme for the next years’ worth of reading: the book that matters most.
Each of the ten book club members, Ava included, is then asked to choose the book that matters most to them. While each person chooses their favourite book, a classic and/or popular title that we’ve all heard of, Ava chooses a fictional title that is important to the story.
We learn of Ava’s traumatic past, involving the premature deaths of two loved ones, and how the book that matters most to her, helped heal her, and provided comfort to her when she needed it.
Ann Hood’s novel is told through several perspectives, but bounces mostly between Ava, and her daughter, Maggie.
After her parents divorce, Maggie travels to Italy to study Art, but then drops out of school to follow a boy to France. There, she makes one bad decision after another and ends up in the hospital facing death.
A Worthy But Difficult Read
This novel goes back and forth between characters, and between past and present. Ann Hood does this really well, and it’s fun to see how they all combine at the end. There are a couple of twists, though I didn’t find any of them truly surprising.
Personally, I’m a little disappointed in the ending, but not for reasons you might think. I’m not going to specify because I don’t want to give any spoilers, but anyone interested in having a private chat about it, please feel free to reach out to me.
Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s well written and relatable to anyone who has overcome difficult situations with death. spouses, or growing children.
A small warning though, and one I didn’t get when I read the book – it can be difficult to read at points. When reading about infidelity, drugs, and overdoses… it can be a little hard to stomach.
If you’ve read The Book That Matters Most, I’d love to hear your opinion in the Girl and a Book Facebook group!