The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Cover to The Book That Matters Most

In The Book That Matters Most, Ava, a French professor at the local university, is blindsided when her husband announces he’s rekindled the flame with a lover of long ago. Yes, his job often dominated their free time, and, yes, their daughter had created stress by following a rocky path of drugs and unhealthy relationships, but Ava felt these obstacles were surmountable. She had been content in her marriage.

The shock and subsequent embarrassment of the betrayal prompts Ava to sequester herself. For years, her close friend Cate had unsuccessfully tried to recruit her to join the library’s book club. When another opening becomes available, Ava views the club as a quiet avenue to venture back into the world.

At her first meeting, the participants have each been assigned the task of selecting a book for next year’s calendar. The criterion is that the books must have made significant impacts on their lives. Ava is unprepared as she hears the list grow—The Great Gatsby, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Catcher in the Rye. Finally, all eyes are on her and she blurts out From Clare to Here, by Rosalind Arden.

Her fellow club members are flummoxed to say the least by this title, with which not one single person is familiar. But Ava persists. What the others don’t realize is that Ava’s mother—riddled with guilt over the preventable death of her youngest daughter—had jumped from a bridge to her death. It was Arden’s book that had been young Ava’s lifeline.