Monday, December 2, 2019

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kelly Harms (author), Amy McFadden (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, May 2019

Amy Byler is a school librarian at a private school in Pennsylvania, with two children (Corinne, 15, and Joe, 12), and a husband who went off on a business trip to Hong Kong three years ago, and decided not to come back. It's been a struggle, and it meant going back to work after not using her MLS degree for twelve years, but she has held everything together and provided a decent life for her kids--including the pricey private school her husband had previously paid for, by getting the librarian job there.

But it's been a struggle, and there's very little in her life except her kids and her work.

Then her husband comes back, and wants to spend a week with the kids. After some hesitation, and indeed resentment, Amy decides it's a chance to attend a librarians' conference in New York City, do a presentation on her program for making reading more attractive and less stigmatizing to kids with low reading skills, and spend time with her old friend, Talia. Talia runs a fashion magazine, and comes up with a plan: a makeover for Amy, and a rejuvenating week of fun, for which she creates the hashtag, "#momspringa."

I loved this book. Not only is Amy a great character; her friends and family, as well as the people she meets in New York are also interesting and compelling characters. These include Daniel Seong, a fellow librarian, based in NYC, interested in the reading program she presents at the conference, and Catherine, whose last name I did not catch in this audiobook, another librarian also interested in it, who is a librarian in the Chicago public school system. What I love about these two, and Amy herself, aside from their personalities and relationships to each other, is that they are real librarians. Even though this is not a book about librarianship or set in a library. Even though it's "just" a part of the character development. These are people I recognize as fellow professionals, real people who care about books and reading and knowledge, and meeting the needs of the people they serve. They're rounded characters; Amy is a dedicated librarian, a devoted mother, a good friend. Daniel is a divorced father of a teenage daughter, who unlike Amy's husband, John, didn't run away. Catherine is a married mother of two toddlers. They have interests they share and interests they don't share. We get to know Amy's and Daniel's kids, though of course not so much Catherinc's toddlers, home in Chicago with her husband.

And when John decides he wants to extend his week with the kids to the entire summer with the kids, Amy has a chance to extend her #momspringa and get better acquainted with Daniel, as well as herself. And just like the Amish rumspringa on which Talia based the word, at the end of it, Amy is going to have a big decision to make.

Highly recommended.

I borrowed this book via Scribd.

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