The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander is a contemporary fiction book about a woman who loses her grandmother and her job so she decides to move to a small town where she ends up opening a library inside of an old phone booth. There’s a little romance but mostly this is Jess’ story as she tries to find her place in this town and figure out what to do next with her life. The Littlest Library will be published July 19th.
A little red telephone box full of stories, a chance to change her life…
Jess Metcalf is perfectly content with her quiet, predictable life. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, Jess’ life is turned upside down.
Determined to pick up the pieces, Jess decides it’s time for a new beginning. Unable to part with her grandmother’s cherished books, she packs them all up and moves to a tiny cottage in the English countryside. To her surprise, Jess discovers that she’s now the owner of an old red phone box that was left on the property. Missing her job at the local library, Jess decides to give back to her new community–using her grandmother’s collection to turn the ordinary phone box into the littlest library in England.
It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their literary magic–bringing the villagers together… and managing to draw Jess’ grumpy but handsome neighbor out of his shell.
Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart, let go of her old life, and make the village her home? But will she be able to take the leap?
I find myself with really no strong feelings about this book that I just finished. It was fine but I’ll forget about it tomorrow.
My main issue with this book is that it felt like something I’d read (or maybe watched) before. Nothing felt new. Jess is forgettable and the scenario of a 30-something year old woman moving to a small town to find her place in the world is not exactly new. There were a few cute tweaks to the familiar tale but nothing that kept me engaged.
The one somewhat promising twist was the library itself and that’s really why I picked it up. But without other plot points to occupy my mind, I spent too much time trying to figure out this library and it just didn’t make any sense. People are coming every day to a library in a phone booth, how many books could there possibly be? There’s an entire shelf of classic romance, another of cook books, and a third of children’s books. Assuming the cover is close to accurate, that’s half the books and there’s only 20 or so of each. How are all of these people using it so frequently with so few books? I realize it’s a cute idea and I’m just being picky but seriously, my mind kept wandering back to this and that’s a bad sign in and of itself.
One last complaint was the attempt to be inclusive. There is literally a single statement in the book that Maisie is dyslexic and it is never mentioned again. There is also lots of speculating about the sexuality of an older single man which I found unnecessary and in bad taste for a book published in 2022. These two items could have been omitted entirely with zero impact on the story and it really felt like they were inserted only to say there was some representation in it.
The quirky characters were cute but there were so many and I mixed them up constantly. The plot was fine but nothing special. The romance was probably the most interesting part of the book for me and a few parts towards the beginning were pretty cute but it quickly got put on the back burner and the angsty pining didn’t come across great.
So overall, not bad but not great. If you are a fan of contemporary with a hint of romance and don’t mind a very familiar feeling plot, you might want to give this one a go.
* I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *