Summer is almost over but you can prolong the season by spending time in a small, New Hampshire town at the Riverton Public Library in Sue Halpern’s entertaining novel “Summer Hours at the Robbers Library.”
Both Kit and Sunny live their lives hiding from the past. For Kit, forty-four and childless, it is her own past she is running from, but for teenaged Sunny, it is something in her parent’s past that keeps them on the move. The two of them are brought together when Sunny is ordered to do community service at Kit’s library after attempting to steal a dictionary from a local store.
Sunny is at first quiet and reserved but soon finds working at the library is a welcome escape as she performs storytimes for the children and gets to know the close-knit group of men who drop in daily to gossip and read the paper. It is obvious she is loved at home but that her parents’ unconventional lifestyle is starting to cause the teen to wish for a more stable and traditional life, which she begins to find at the library.
The quiet of small town life in Riverton is what Kit is looking for after something in her past has turned her life upside down. Through flashbacks, the author slowly reveals what brought Kit to Riverton, providing one of the mysteries running throughout the book: Who is Kit and how did the suburban wife of a prominent doctor end up in a small New England town, living alone and working at the public library?
Another mystery that Sunny accidently uncovers one day revolves around her father, a hapless hippie that moves the family from one location to another and shuns the government, including public schools for Sunny. He may not be the person he claims to be and this revelation puts Sunny’s life into a tailspin.
As if that is not enough to keep the plot moving along, good-looking Rusty shows up in town one day driving a fancy car and sporting expensive suits while staying at the less than luxurious motor lodge out the highway, and the reader is left wondering what brings this big city professional to sleepy Riverton.
“Summer Hours at the Robbers Library” has just enough small town cuteness to keep things light without going overboard and is full of likable characters (except for the one obligatory cranky librarian that shushes everyone) with complex lives that drive the novel to a satisfactory but not cliché ending.
Katherine Arends is the Branch Manager of the Mebane Public Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.