Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern
HarperCollins: 2/27/18
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062678966

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern is a very highly recommended novel about second chances and family. It surprised me how much I loved this gracefully written contemporary, charming novel with its distinctive characters.

Kit is the reference librarian at the Carnegie Library (called the "Robbers" Library based on the name of a local tycoon, Robers, who promoted it) in Riverton, NH. Kit has moved here four years ago to escape her past and wants nothing more than a peaceful, quiet, secluded life that revolves around working at the library. She often thinks of her therapist, Dr. Bondi, and what he has said to her in the past and would currently say about situations.

Sunny (Solstice) is an fifteen-year-old who is arrested for shoplifting a dictionary. She is sentenced to community service at the library for the summer. Sunny is un-schooled and the only child of her living-off-the-grid hippy parents. Her community service at the library opens up a new world to her and she eagerly attaches herself to Kit.

Rusty is a former Wall Street investor who lost his job. He has come to Riverton looking for an old bank account that belonged to his mom and should be worth some money now. He is at the library everyday using the computer to do research.  Rusty eventually joins the group of four retired men who come to the library every morning to read the papers and drink coffee. He also begins to connect with Kit and Sunny.

These three unique individuals begin to form an uneasy friendship and connection as their stories are slowly told through alternating chapters. Kit's story is more complicated than the others and the larger backstory that begs to be told after the opening chapter. Sunny's story is based more on her parent's decisions and how they have impacted her life. Rusty is, obliviously, trying to find a new direction to his life after he lost his previous job.

Halpern has made all these characters appealing and compelling. I liked the narrative switching between the character's stories and found them equally compelling. I wanted to know what happened to them and see healing for them in the future. I loved the empathy given to the life of all these characters and the insight into their situations. I also loved the grace they gave each other, as they tried to understand and help each other. These are beautifully captured characters. (I saved quotes that I won't share due to spoilers, but there was so much insight and wisdom in them.)

The plot starts out at an even pace covering the background of the characters (but not Kit's entire story until later) before picking up the drama. The biggest complement I can give  is that I was looking forward to sitting down and reading it and felt happy and satisfied when the novel concluded. While there was drama and conflicts, in the end this novel that left me feeling happy that recovery from traumatic events can happen and family can be chosen. And I loved the sheer love of reading and books that permeates the novel, along with the line of poetry from a notable poet that opens each chapter.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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