Phaedra Patrick, 2019
Martha is a volunteer at a library who has somehow gotten herself into a “helper” role which has earned her a reputation as a doormat. She allows herself to be used – by her sister, by the man she perceives to be her boss at a volunteer job for which she receives no pay, and by the members of the book group she facilitates.
While minding her own business as a doormat, Martha is mysteriously sent a book of the stories she wrote as a child. The book contains a handwritten inscription, addresssed to Martha by her grandmother, dated years after her grandmother died. Martha investigates, and in the process her life and relationships are changed.
The delicious possibility of a ghost dedication was the hook that drew me in. As the story moves between Martha’s present and her childhood, a major theme is revealed as the reader sees that Martha’s native talent was stifled, which impacted her self-worth and changed the trajectory of her life. In the process of investigating the mysterious book’s origins, Martha takes back the power she actually had all along. This reader likes to think that Martha continues her delayed growth past the end this book and continues to re-write her own story.