Finding Family on the Road

Mobile Library: A Novel, by David Whitehouse, (Scribner), 272 pages, release date January 20, 2015

David Whitehouse’s Mobile Library is a hard book to categorize—both painful and funny, absurd and wise.

Young Bobby has become an archivist of his own home and life, compulsively recording every minor event and fact so he can share them with his mother, who has disappeared, but who he’s sure will return. Bullied at school and ignored (at best) by his father, Bobby builds his own family among people he meets who share, each in her or his own way, his sense of isolation.

There’s Sunny, who is determined to become a cyborg in order to protect his friend—breaking one bone at a time, so that they can be repaired with steel plates. There’s Rosa, who is developmentally disabled and who has a fascination with names, and her mother Val. When Sunny disappears and Bobby’s father grows violent, the remaining three—Bobby, Rosa, and Val—take to the road in a mobile library.

I’d expected this book to be a lighter read than it is. In fact, it is at times distressing. Nonetheless, the characters compel the reader to keep going—and the solution, though unexpected, is quite satisfactory.

January 17 2015 06:28 am | Uncategorized

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