I turned to The Reading List as an easy read after having finished a very intense, somewhat fictional account of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Fully expecting a very light romp, I was beautifully surprised by how engaged I became with the characters and the interconnectedness that weaves through all of the characters in the story.
The story opens in the Harrow Road Library, where a customer discovers a reading list of books titled, ‘Just in case you need it’ lying on one of the library tables. He leaves it on the study table where it is found by a young student, Aleisha, who is reluctantly working at the library for the summer. With her discovery of the reading list, so begins her journey into the enthralling world of fiction that will change the course of her life. She finds herself enraptured by the first book on the list, To Kill a Mockingbird, and recommends it to an elderly widower, Mukesh Patel or Mr. P as he becomes known. Mr. P is looking to begin reading stories as a way to connect to his deceased wife as well as his youngest granddaughter, both of whom found solace and comfort from the books they shared. Mr. P and Aleisha begin to talk about the books they are reading from the list and their perspectives and reflections are very interesting. We begin to see the kind of challenges both Aleisha and Mr. P have in their personal lives and how this new relationship will become a thread that will keep them from succumbing to the despair that threatens to destabilize each of them. Operating behind-the-scenes of the two main characters are others in the community who also discover this list of book suggestions and share their reactions and reflections on what they are experiencing on their reading journey.
This is a lovely story and I have found myself reflecting on many aspects of it in the days since I finished reading it. A great debut novel for Sara Nisha Adams.