There is that rare congruence in fiction when all of the pieces fall into play in perfect harmony: characters, text, plotlines and small moments that inform the varying elements which gives readers a new appreciation for things often taken for granted. David Whitehouse has created a story that gives each new reader a new regard for books, reading and all-encompassing stories.
A boy, a Princess a Queen and a Caveman depict the characters that you will encounter in this story, but you must start at the end before finding the plot. Yes, unlike others I have read or listened to, Whitehouse starts this story at the end, the Mobile Library book van is on the edge of a cliff, surrounded by police. Quite an interesting moment, this grabs your interest because you NEED to know why they are there.
Narration moves from varying perspectives; Bobby, the boy, is the hero and he’s had a not so marvelous life at home or at school. Bullied at school and with an absent mother and abusive father, he’s in need of a ‘new’ family. He meets Rosa, the princess, a mentally challenged girl, and they are forming a friendship. Soon, Bobby meets Val, Rosa’s mother, the Queen, who has opened her home and family to Bobby. Her job is cleaning the mobile library weekly, and Bobby has found a new family and friends, and a new home.
The moments in the library, mentions of favorite books from childhood and glimpses into Bobby’s past family issues all seem to combine in ways that make sense, even when they don’t appear to at first. The Little Prince, Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn all make appearances of note in the story, each seeming to relate to an important moment or event. When issues overrun and Bobby, Rosa and Val jump into the mobile library to run to (or from) something – and there they meet Joe, the caveman, who has been working on his own issues with anger and has isolated himself away from people until the little group appears.
A tale that is wonderfully amusing with several messages delivered about love, acceptance and friendship, with a few of those moments being a bit darker than others. With rapid point of view changes that are confusing early on, the clear character definitions and approaches to life soon smooth out and become natural. There is a lack of “grey’ in this story: characters are all good or all bad, without great exception, the messages of friendship and family are stronger with this technique than if there were more balance in the traits. What emerges is a clear view from a perspective appropriate for readers 11 and up.
Narration in this story is provided by Tim Gerard Reynolds, and he happens to be one of my favorite narrators of an adult romantic suspense series, Countermeasure, that I adore. His delivery, tone, accents and voices all fit the characters nicely, and he doesn’t miss a beat in changing from one distinct delivery to another. This is a wonderful story for your child to listen to alone, or for you to share in small bites before bedtime. Full of action, adventure and plenty of moments that leave you thinking, it’s moved to one of my favorites for 2015.
Stars: Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5
Title: Mobile Library: A Novel
Published on: 20 January, 2015
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 35 minutes
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From the award-winning novelist David Whitehouse, hailed by The New York Times as “a writer to watch,” a tragicomic adventure about a troubled adolescent boy who escapes his small town in a stolen library-on-wheels.
“An archivist of his mother,” Bobby Nusku spends his nights meticulously cataloging her hair, clothing, and other traces of the life she left behind. By day, Bobby and his best friend Sunny hatch a plan to transform Sunny, limb-by-limb, into a cyborg who could keep Bobby safe from schoolyard torment and from Bobby’s abusive father and his bleach-blonde girlfriend. When Sunny is injured in a freak accident, Bobby is forced to face the world alone.
Out in the neighborhood, Bobby encounters Rosa, a peculiar girl whose disability invites the scorn of bullies. When Bobby takes Rosa home, he meets her mother, Val, a lonely divorcee, whose job is cleaning a mobile library. Bobby and Val come to fill the emotional void in each other’s lives, but their bond also draws unwanted attention. After Val loses her job and Bobby is beaten by his father, they abscond in the sixteen-wheel bookmobile. On the road they are joined by Joe, a mysterious but kindhearted ex-soldier. This “puzzle of people” will travel across England, a picaresque adventure that comes to rival those in the classic books that fill their library-on-wheels.
At once tender, provocative and darkly funny, Mobile Library is a fable about the intrinsic human desire to be loved and understood—and about one boy’s realization that the kinds of adventures found in books can happen in real life. It is the ingenious second novel by a writer whose prose has been hailed as “outlandishly clever” (The New York Times) and “deceptively effortless” (The Boston Globe).
A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.