The Library – Bella Osborne

Reading, books and library’s can bring people together. They cross the generations, they cross class divides, social divides, gender divides. There is something for everyone and anyone.

Tom is someone who hasn’t really picked up a book unless it has to be read for school. But his mum loved to read, and he thinks perhaps to understand women and girls he should perhaps read about romance. At least it might help him with his school boy crush on Farah. He has no where else to turn to, his mother has gone and his father is turning into an alcoholic whose only aim is to make sure Tom, leave schools and goes to earn money at the local factory.

Tom it seems has other ideas once he finds books, stories and the local library.

Tom also finds Maggie. Maggie is in her early seventies, she has lived alone for ten years and is content with her life at the small holding she has and the routine that she has developed. Visiting the library for a book group weekly and enjoying the stories that let her escape the life she has seemed to create for herself.

When a chance encounter brings Tom and Maggie together, they both find something from each other. Whether it is a mother figure and home cooked food, to recognising past mistakes and how they can shape the future, they both bring a lot to their unlikely friendship.

With this bond, they help to campaign to save the library which is threatened with closure and they try to make sure everyone knows what can happen when a space such as a library can bring to a community.

Although this campaign is important, the friendship between Tom and Maggie and the things they find out about each other and learn about their past and present makes for a heart-warming novel. However some of the topics are not heart-warming and underneath the surface there are some tricky topics dealt with; grief, debt, alcoholism, adoption to name a few. Perhaps too many for some, but all had their relevance to play in this novel and for me it was perfectly balanced.

A change from previous Osborne books I have read, but a welcome one and I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys getting really involved in characters and plot.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Library is out now.

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