cover image The Lonely Book

The Lonely Book

Meg Grehan. Little Island, $10.99 paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-915071-44-6

In gently rhythmic verse, Grehan (Baby Teeth) chronicles the lives of Annie, her older sibling, and their mothers, Mum and Mama, who live above their cozy business, Birch Books, where a stack of titles magically appears on the counter every day, each waiting to be sold to their destined reader. That is, until a single lonely book about gender identity goes uncollected. It insistently re-appears each day, prompting Annie to honestly and thoughtfully interrogate questions of gender identity and what the topic means to her, as well as wonder who the book could be for. Worry about her sibling’s sudden emotional distance and the shop’s finances cause Annie to shut down and go “quiet,” her term for her instances of selective mutism, during which her words become “trapped.” Despite her own struggles, she refuses to give up on the shop or her family. By emphasizing the ways in which books and bookstores serve as safe spaces, the importance of open and honest communication in relationships, and the power of unconditional love, Grehan offers a wholesome and affirming story suffused with warmth and populated by a supportive and compassionate cast. Most characters cue as white; Mama has brown skin. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)