Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

What It’s About:

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all–or mostly all–excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

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My Thoughts:

Slice of life?  Romance?  Comedy? Family drama? Coming-into-one’s-own.  I don’t know if it is trying to hard to be something to every reader, or if it is an absurdly balanced, cross-genre book.  Whichever it is, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is an enjoyable read.

As with her last book, Bookish Life is set in an established neighborhood of Los Angeles. The author’s intimate knowledge of her hometown is apparent in her vivid descriptions of the neighborhood and residents.

Nina is unique, or at least she thinks so.  She was an anxious, precocious child.  Now she is an anxious adult trying to muddle through life with a color-coded planner and scheduled-to-the-minute life.  This is not to say that Nina is uninteresting. That obsessive scheduling helps her feel in control.  She and her cat, Phil, have the most interesting conversations.  Escaping in a book has ALWAYS been Nina’s favorite thing to do. She is an amazing sponge for information, and she puts it to use on her ace trivia team for the East LA trivia competition circuit.

<i>“Oh My God, it is hard being human sometimes!” –Nina</i>

Nina’s quiet life becomes quite colorful when she notices one of the handsome competitors on a rival trivia team. Tom, the once trivia-team rival turned potential love interest is a quintessentially chill guy who is the yin to Nina’s yang.

“I want to be with you the way you are, the way you’re going to be, and the way you end up. Every way you are is beautiful to me.” –Tom

 That little step out of her usual, highly planned life is the start of utter chaos.  Nina’s beloved job at Knight’s Bookstore seems to be in jeopardy, and even more overwhelming is the fact that Nina has just learn who her father is…too bad it was from his estate attorney.

New extended family, potential new love, and potential loss of a job through Nina for a loop.  The romance aspect of the story was just okay for me.  Nina’s discovery of and learning about her new family was interesting; I would have loved more development of this part of the story. Her work situation is fun and funny, but the angst it creates is resolved a bit too conveniently. Author Abbi Waxman respectfully portrays Nina’s anxiety and how she manages it. Overall, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is a fun read that is wonderfully narrated by Emily Rankin.



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