The library in Cherico, Mississippi, isn't going to win any design awards. It's tiny, has corrugated iron siding, and no parking lot, but for the past six years, it has been librarian Maura Beth Mayhew's pride and joy. When City Council members tell Maura Beth that the library will be closed down, she fights back until she's given a grace period. She has to boost library circulation dramatically, or she'll be looking for another job-- and Cherico's citizens will have to travel a distance to get their reading materials. It's not until the Cherry Cola Book Club is founded that Maura Beth has something to smile about.
This book is filled with Southern charm and warmth, and scenes of people getting together over good food to talk books and get folks using the library warm the cockles of my heart, but I have to admit that I could never completely believe the premise of this book-- and it's got everything to do with my childhood. I grew up in a small village in central Illinois. My mother took over as librarian of a neglected, seldom-used building of out-dated books and a floor that was held up by huge jacks in the basement. With a tiny budget, it was my mother's job to increase circulation and make that library something of which to be proud. She did. By the time she left, our village library had over twice the circulation of the library in the much larger county seat.
Why does this prevent me from falling hook, line, and sinker for this book? Because Maura Beth has been the librarian in Cherico for six years, and during that time it seems that all she's done is ask for a parking lot and computers. One of her assistants states that there are plenty of days that no one at all comes in the library-- and Maura Beth is shocked when the City Council starts thinking of closing the place down? It's only when she has that "gun" of closing held to her head that she finally rolls up her sleeves and starts doing her job.
Don't get me wrong: there's a lot to like in this book, and there are good tips for anyone who's wanting to increase their library traffic. But my own memories of all the work my mother put into the library in our village prevents me from giving this book a whole-hearted recommendation. Loving books and libraries as I do, this makes me feel a tad guilty.
The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee
Kensington © 2013
Paperback, 272 pages
Fiction, #1 Cherry Cola Book Club
Source: Purchased from Amazon as an eBook.