The Last Chance Library
By: Freya Sampson
Overall: June Jones is a thirty year old librarian who is painfully shy and prefers books to people. She lives in Chalcot, a small village in England. She lives alone, in the home her and her mom shared with their disapproving cat, Alan Bennett. She had big dreams to leave the small town and go away to college to become a writer. But, her Mom got sick and she gave up her dreams to help her mom, who was the town librarian. June got a job as a library assistant during that time, and is still doing that today, many years later. She does not realize it, but she is very lonely, stuck in a rut, and living in a bubble of memories from when her mother was still alive. But, when budget cuts threaten to shut down her town library and several others, June wants to do something to help keep her job and keep the library full of memories where her mother worked alive too. So, when a group of regulars from the library form a protest group to try and save the library, June wants to join them, but her boss tells her she can’t or she will be fired. This makes June think about her life, and everything that is important to her. Fighting to save the library is the wake-up call that June has been needing in her life. She decides to help the group of protesters secretly at first. But, then, eventually, she has to break out of her comfort zone of shyness and stand up for herself and the friends she has made at the library, and do everything she can to try to help save it.
Ovations: I love the small, English village setting. And of course I love books about libraries, librarians, and books! I enjoyed all the quirky library patrons that June sees, and helps everyday. They all have nothing in common, except that the library is important in their lives. I admire June for giving up her dreams to help her sick mother. But, then she gets stuck in her grief. So, I love at the end how she gets through it and does move on with her life, lets people into her heart, and starts enjoying things again. It is a sweet, charming story written with humor, emotion, depth, and heart.
Oh Well: The romance element in this book is very minimal. It does follow along the lines of June’s character being super shy and having social anxiety. But, it might have been nice to have more of a romance between Alex and June blossoming throughout the book. Also, the book in general is just a slow- moving story of small- town life, so you have to know that going in.
Opinion: This is a sweet, charming book about libraries, books, librarians, and patrons in a small village in England. It is about their real, day-to-day lives. So sometimes it is sad and heartbreaking. But, there are lots of humorous happenings, quirky characters, personal growth, brave moments, and life lessons throughout the book too. All that is woven together into this delightful book full of hope. Rating 6 out of 10