Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Abbi Waxman - The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own...shell.
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all--or mostly all--excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Comment: This book has been well liked by many readers and I added it to my TBR last year for how could I not when it's about someone who loves books? It was finally time to get to it...

In this book we meet Nina Hill, a 29 year old woman whose childhood was OK but not as great as it could because her mother, a photographer, has wanderlust and left her with a nanny. Nina has coped and feels fine with this but it is true she has felt alone. Now she has a job at a bookstore, she has all kinds of things she is part of, including trivia nights, but her steady, predictable life - as she likes it - takes a turn when out of nowhere someone shows up and tells her that her father has died and left her something. She knew her father had never been in the picture, after all her mother has been honest from the start, so this is quite a novelty and disturbance of her quiet life. Besides, one of the guys from an opposed team at her trivia nights is getting under her skin... how can she deal with so many changes at once?

For me, this was a very easy and fluid story to read. The writing is simple, direct and without constant repetition. I hadn't read other books by the author before but I might look for them at some point since the writing style was appealing. The plot is simple too, not filled with too much drama or over the top situations and I was rooting for the main character all the way.

Nina is a character I think all book lovers can sympathize and identify with, for she lives and breathes books and has had them as friends all her life. How easy it was to imagine myself as her, and except for a few details, her reasoning and look on life were something I could see myself saying/sharing. Nina is a compelling character in the sense she likes being quiet, having her books and her cat and she isn't bitter about it, in fact she embraces her somewhat introvert nature, having all kinds of clubs and groups she is part of and which allow her enough socialization.

The plot isn't complicated, of course for someone with all things organized in her life, only a sudden novelty could change everything and the discovery of a deceased father and all the immediate family she gains by it make her have to deal with things she wasn't aware of. However, the tone of the story is light, not too focused on dramas or stress and I liked the personality of practically all the secondary characters, for all had something about them that counterbalanced Nina and, because of that, we can see how she deals with new things and new people.

With these new additions to her life, plus some worries about her job, Nina has a lot to think about but one issue that feels too obvious as something that could cause her sadness is her relationship with her mother. They do get along but we certainly read between the lines how alone Nina has felt although she never reveals if this was a trauma or not. she has coped, she deals with it as best as she can but I can assume this might feel a little unsolved for some readers.

Then we have the romance, something that also suddenly makes Nina has to think about her lifestyle and priorities. I mean, she is not too keen on being in a relationship because she actually doesn't want to change what she sees as easy and stable and something she likes, which is doing things her won way, without having to worry about someone else - how I understand her! - but this also being fiction, of course she and Tom, awkward nerds as they are described, still fall in love despite the scenes where they don't seem to be in sync.I liked this part of the story, how Nina acts and describes her feelings on this issue.

At the same time, I can't help feeling this book is missing something, some kind of lacking issues to make it perfect... I liked the story but it wasn't as riveting as I'd like, all things considered. I can't explain what that something else could be, but it does feel as if everything fits the correct boxes too quickly...as if the plans the author had were all too easy and there were no real surprises to deal with. I just know this could have been a little better somehow... nevertheless, it was a very good read.
Grade: 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment