This is a story of fan-girling, acceptance, and community. And a book review.
Just about the time my book was in production, I was invited to join the Auburn Public Library Board of Trustees. Sounds impressive, right? As you will read below, I am a serious fan-girl of libraries. I visit them when I am on vacation. I take photos. I pull over when driving by. This ask was incomprehensible to me.
For all of us book lovers, a library is a place to wander and admire titles, covers, organization. It's where I go to get a very specific title and leave with a truckload of books with promises that I CAN read all of them in three weeks. So when Lisa Cesare, another APL Trustee asked if I would consider serving on the board, I thought she was just being nice. Then I met with APL Director Mamie Anthoine Ney, and she actually thanked me profusely for even considering it. The Library sees me: it accepts me!
In my short stint on the board, I have realized that a public library, what we as residents of the community think of as an institution, is really a group of people. I've always been a part of it - and so are you. Even if you haven't walked into your public library in years, it continues to thrive, just waiting to welcome you again with open arms.
On to the book review....as a new Trustee, I was featured in the recent Auburn Public Library newsletter. Director of Engagement Haley Warden put together this list of questions for me to consider, and I hope you enjoy my responses.
What book have you recently finished? The book I most recently finished is Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter. It is the second installment of the Andrea Oliver series, which many people may know from the Netflix interpretation with Toni Collette called Pieces of Her.
What did you enjoy most about the book? I was not familiar with Slaughter’s book series, but I was intrigued by the character of Andrea on the Netflix series - I felt she was difficult to understand on television, so reading the novel (which is told from her perspective) was very enlightening.
Have you read other books by this author? I’ve never read anything else by Slaughter. She is known for crime fiction, which is not a favorite genre of mine. (And yes, I suspect Slaughter is a clever pen name for a crime fiction writer.)
What feelings did the book invoke in you? When I first “met” Andrea in Pieces of Her on television, she struggled with her identity and felt weak. When I met her in this second book in the series, she has become a federal agent, certainly an empowering role for a young woman. Her journey made me a fan - I routed for her to do well in this man’s world that demanded not just her physical agility but also her perceptive skills and humanity.
What questions did the story leave you with? Many, as there is a third installment in the series. Mostly, I want to know if she and her mother will ever have a healthy relationship.
Would you recommend this book to others? I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Netflix series (I’m a big proponent of using popular television series to entice “non-readers”.) Even if you are not a crime fiction reader, it’s always good to go outside your reading comfort zone, and this book is great for readers who like a strong female character involved in a mystery.
Do you have a particular genre you enjoy more than others? I am an avid reader, trying to read 50 books a year. My go-to is always historical fiction, particularly those set in and around World War II. However, in recent years I have rediscovered my love of mystery (Nancy Drew anyone?), and adore the contemporary British mystery writers Ruth Ware, Lisa Jewell, and Australian Kate Morton. Their newly published novels always go to the top of my “to read” pile!
How long have you been a patron of APL? I would guess since we moved to Auburn in 1988. Before that, I was a Lewiston Public Library patron from childhood, then a patron of the Winchester (MA) Public Library when we lived there.
Why do you consider public libraries important to our communities? Libraries are like home. I feel that I can walk into any library anywhere (and yes, it is actually part of my regular vacation routine) and feel an automatic connection. When I was a young child, I spent hours in the children’s room and remember vividly when the librarian introduced me to the research room and the stacks. I really believe I learned who I am by spending time in libraries.
If you could be any literary character who would it be and why? I have to go with Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. She’s similar to me in that everything she reads becomes real to her, and the most benign thing can become the seed for a wild story in her imagination. And she lives in a Gothic castle, which is everyone’s dream, isn’t it??