Library Journal Review
This book is author Hood's (The Book That Matters Most) tribute to the books that shape us, those we find exactly when we need them, and those that take us beyond our own lives. The child of immigrants, Hood describes growing up in a dying mill town, in the Italian enclave of Natick, RI, during the 1960s and 1970s. A reader from the moment she picked up her older brother's book, Hood was a quiet child who found solace in the titles she devoured-the bigger, the better. From Herman Wouk to Sylvia Plath to John Steinbeck, Hood admits to reading widely and without discernment, the length of a volume her marker for satisfaction. Each chapter here revolves around a memorable title, detailing how it inspired Hood's early understanding of the world, war, sex, love, and life. The stories are poignant, touching, and enlightening, revealing just as much about America as they do about Hood's reading habits. VERDICT While there is a tradition of memoir told through a love of books, Hood provides a new, rich glimpse into an Italian American childhood. A treat for bibliophiles and readers of all genres. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/17.]-Gricel -Dominguez, Florida International Univ. Lib. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
As a child, novelist Hood (The Book That Matters Most) had an insatiable appetite for reading, a preoccupation disdained by her large, no-nonsense Italian family in 1960s Rhode Island. For Hood, as she lovingly recounts in this ode to the power of words, books were an escape from the dead-end mill town, West Warwick, where she lived. Books guided Hood through her outsider youth and helped her to define the "yearning" for something bigger that she knew wouldn't be found on West Warwick's small, ordinary streets. Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was the first book to transport Hood away from West Warwick; the next was Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar. Marjorie Morningstar brought Hood enormous pleasure because of its heft but also because Hood thought it was as if Wouk were writing about her family's immigrant story. Morningstar (and later Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar) captured what Hood was feeling but could not express or share: dissatisfaction, anxiety, sexual curiosity, and the aspiration to write for a living. In adulthood, books such as John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath taught Hood how to be a writer and Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago ignited her desire to travel. Hood has beautifully crafted a very convincing case for discovering literature and getting lost in the pages. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
How does one learn to dream, to scheme, to aspire, to inquire? For best-selling novelist Hood (The Book That Matters Most, 2016), the answers to questions she had about herself and her life could always be found in the pages of a book. Whether it was a sense of how to fit in or how to stand out, how to protest injustice or how to support equality, Hood discovered inspiration in the lives of fictional characters, followed instructions revealed in scenes of novels, and felt emotionally validated by images revealed in lines of poetry. Hood knew early on that she wanted to be a writer at a time when such a career choice was widely disdained. Determined nonetheless, she found a way to make it happen and discerned guidance in everything from classic literature to pop and pulp fiction, from John Steinbeck to Erich Segal, Boris Pasternak to Sylvia Plath. Not many people could point with such specificity to books that have imparted valuable life lessons, and Hood shares beloved works with an affecting and inspiring reverence.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2017 Booklist