cover image Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting

Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting

Clare Pooley. Viking/Dorman, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-984878-64-9

A man’s near-death experience brings a group of commuters out of their shells in the fleet-footed latest from Pooley (The Authenticity Project). Iona Iverson, an uptight advice columnist being pushed out of her longtime job, lives by strict rules that include never giving up a seat or talking to other riders on her morning commute into London’s Waterloo Station. But when Piers, another commuter Iona has long assumed to be an obnoxious businessman, chokes on a grape, Iona and the other riders spring into action to save him. With the ice broken, the passengers get to know each other and look to Iona for guidance on their personal problems. There’s Emmie, a young professional facing harassment from a stalker; Sanjay, the nurse who saved Piers and has a crush on Emmie; David, a nondescript suit whose wife wants to separate; Martha, a teenager whose boyfriend leaked a nude picture of her; and Piers, whose bluster disguises his failing career and marriage. While helping them, Iona, in turn, learns how she might modernize her column. The commuters’ judgmental attitudes at the story’s start are a bit overdone (Iona identifies Piers as “Smart-but-Sexist-Manspreader” before she learns his name), but the heartwarming tale of overcoming the atomization of modern life strikes a chord. Readers looking for a breezy and rewarding story will find much to love. (June)