Desert Isle Keeper
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is a gem of a book! Abbi Waxman has brought us a delightful heroine in Nina Hill – she’s smart, sassy, quirky, and charming. I fell in love at first read with Nina and her bookish ways and swoonworthy book shelves.
Nina Hill is the only child of a globetrotting photographer. She was raised by a beloved nanny and that’s okay with her – really, she prefers her own company anyway. Nina works at an indie bookstore and spends her free-time focusing on her reading, what other people are reading, what her book clubs should be reading, and for a little something different, competing with her trivia team. She’s also a bit of a loner and suffers from bouts of social anxiety.
She enjoyed people – she really did – she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses: a little of the poison was the cure.
Trivia quiz night is her favorite night of the week. Her team is having a great season until the cute guy from a rival quiz team beats her on a sports question. And then she receives an unexpected visit from a lawyer – her dad just died and left her something in his will. Nina is shocked. She knew she must have a dad somewhere but honestly had never given it much thought. Now she is suddenly part of a large, bickering family and it’s just too much; she’d rather just bow out.
Oh my God, she thought, it’s hard to be human sometimes, with the pressure to be civilized lying only very thinly over the brain of a nervous little mammal.
Over the next few days, Nina gains a nephew (who is a year older than Nina), one brother, three sisters, and an angry niece. Turns out her dad married three times leaving trails of unhappiness in his wake. Nina takes refuge in her books, ice cream, her comfy chair, and her cat as she tries to sort through her new family.
They say you always remember your first time, and Nina definitely did. Walking into the Los Angeles Central Library to get her first library card, when she was eight or so, was still a memory she treasured…Nina had looked around and realized she would never run out of things to read, and that certainty filled her with peace and satisfaction. It didn’t matter what hit the fan; as long as there were unread books in the world, she would be fine.
Into Nina’s new chaos enters the cute guy from the rival quiz team – Tom. Tom has been attracted to Nina for a while and makes a few attempts to get together with her including a hilarious scene where he shows up at her preteen book club meeting and her young readers conclude “Sister, you need to work on your banter”. Nina avoids Tom, not wanting to add more complications to her life. She has decided to take a break from dating (easier than the time she’d tried to give up caffeine), but Tom is patient, and their matchmaking friends are clever, and Nina eventually succumbs to her desire to get to know Tom and starts to date him.
In The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina’s journey from loner to family member and lover is the main meal and the romance is like a really good side of fries (or kale and beet salad if that’s your thing). But it is a very satisfying and delightful romance. Nina is one of those charming heroines whose brains are crammed with random factoids that tend to come out unexpectedly at the worst times. Tom is endearing, sweet, and thoughtful, and wants to be with Nina – anxiety, random factoids, and all – and the romance develops at a good pace with great conversations and lots of smoldering looks. The author also does a wonderful job with the supporting characters – they are all quirky in their own ways and fun to spend time with.
Ms. Waxman’s writing style is so enjoyable. It’s fresh and fun and I loved being inside Nina and Tom’s heads – it’s a voyeuristic style that worked perfectly with the story. And I laughed out loud so much that my twenty-three-year-old daughter stole the book as soon as I was finished (she loved it too).
Go and read this book! Final, delightful quote:
“Do you know the best feeling in the world?”
“Uh…” Nina shook her head, despite having some ideas.
Liz glowed. “It’s reading a book, loving every second of it, then turning to the front and discovering that the writer wrote fourteen zillion others.”
That’s how I felt when I finished The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. I can’t wait to read the other books by Abbi Waxman!