“Lush, dark and unsettling, No Book but the World haunted me for days. With great skill, Leah Hager Cohen takes us through a twisty and resonant tale about the price of secrets, the burden of family, the remnants of childhood we never leave behind.” —Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything and Dare Me
At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, shared a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations and each other’s presence. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness or vague impairment, but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of evaluation or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.
Decades later, then, when Ava learns that her brother is being held in a county jail for a shocking crime, she is frantic to piece together what actually happened. A boy is dead. But could Fred really have done what he is accused of? As she is drawn deeper into the details of the crime, Ava becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to reach her brother and explain him—and his innocence—to the world.
Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous story that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||1 MB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I agree with "lovelybookshelf" as far as an apt synopsis and themes, really well put. But I didn't care enough about the characters to feel anything but manipulated at the end.
Ava and her brother, Fred, grew up in a peaceful, idealistic environment; free to roam and explore the world around them, free to make all of their own decisions. Fred showed signs of mental impairment, but his parents chose to give him the space to develop naturally into his own person, without labels or stigmas. When Fred is later accused of a horrific crime, Ava is forced to reflect upon their childhood and their parents' choices. The narrative often moves in and out through time, between childhood memories and the crisis of present day. These are not presented in well-defined sections; rather, they weave in and out as Ava (and others) muddle through the attempt to make sense of what has happened. And the ending... wow. It was gut-wrenching. Like I'd been punched in the stomach. No Book but the World brings up tough questions for its characters and its readers: At what point is the gift of autonomy not in the best interest of the child? Where is the line drawn between permissive parenting and neglect? How does one know when idealism needs to take a back seat to reality? Leah Hager Cohen treats these questions and her characters with the utmost respect, compassion, and thoughtfulness. This is a compelling novel well worth reading. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
This book was simply boring and pointless. I couldn't have cared less about the characters. The tone never changed and there was not a single moment that even approached a catharsis. Hated it.
While I can see why someone else might really like this book, it isn't grabbing me. For me the story is not that compelling at all, but I have read many, many books of fiction so I maybe it takes more for me to really get interested in a story.