Monday, December 17, 2012

Volunteers for Literacy-*There May Be Spoilers*

Title: Volunteers for Literacy
Volunteers for LiteracyAuthor:  Gretchen Elhassani
Publisher: Self Published
Published: September 1, 2012
Format: E-book/Kindle
Pages: 190
Source: Received from the Author in exchange
for an honest review.
Read: December 5 2012
In A Few Words: Fast paced
My Rating: 3 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Amanda Smith never learned to read. A local tutoring program called the City Volunteers for Literacy agrees to provide her with a free tutor. The first time they meet at the downtown library, Amanda is energized; the second meeting is horrifying. As Amanda struggles with sight words in a remote tutoring room, bank robbers burst into the library to escape from the police. Amanda must use her survival skills to save her tutor and the innocent people who are caught at the library that day.

Melissa's Musings:

Volunteers for Literacy will certainly make you think twice about the safety of a public library. 

The initial story is well rounded and believable. Amanda is a single mom, working as a manager of a local burger joint, not able to advance any further as she left school at a young age and cannot read. She has a 5 year old daughter to care for, and even her daughter knows that the stories her mom "reads" to her are made up.

Amanda finally decides to help herself and goes to the Volunteers for Literacy program to be matched up with a tutor.

On the second visit there the library is invaded by robbers. These same group of people have come into contact with Amanda before, or at least one of them has.  Anthony helps to kidnap Sara, one of the employees at Burby-Q where they both work

The action is quick paced, and as a character, Amanda is quick on her feet and fast thinking. I don't care for the fact that a few of the other characters insulted her because she can't read. But it's obvious that what she lacks in reading skills she makes up for in problem solving ability.

As quick as the action is, it could have been cut some as well. It seems like overkill when they are finally about to escape the library just to have the other robber in the group finally come looking for the rest of them with Sara as the hostage and then having to outwit him too. 

I was shocked by one of the actions of the character at the end of the book partly because the action seems so unrealistic, and partly because it's out of character for him. ***SPOILER ALERT***

When the robbery is going on, the senior librarian, Erik, seems like a nice, respectable guy. He wants to protect his patrons and colleagues throughout the ordeal. One of the robbers brings the stash that they got from the bank and tells the hostages to cut out the middles of books and stuff the cash into it. (I cringed when I read this because I cannot imagine destroying books like this) Then they are to tape up the books and send them through the inter library loan program. Well, Erik is the one doing the processing. 

Then once it's all said and done the situation ends and everyone goes back to their normal lives. There's a ceremony to reward Amanda, Anthony and Erik for their actions. Amanda gets a 2 year scholarship to a community college, Anthony is allowed to say a few words and Erik gets a mere plaque. Amanda makes a note that this doesn't seem like enough.

That is until Erik disguises himself and goes to the library that the hollowed out books were sent to and goes to retrieve them. The end of the book is left asking whether he will turn the money in or not, but it's almost a given that he would take it, so it's kind of silly to end it by asking the question in the first place. Otherwise why would he have disguised himself.

This doesn't even seem like a realistic scenario because it's unlikely that the police would have just forgotten about the money that the thieves stole as it is.

This ending did detract from the story a bit, but overall this is a good book. After reading this I'd say that I hope there are hidden rooms and passages in my local library like there are in this one. One, because they just sounded neat, and two because you never know what could happen.

Just a small word of warning, some of the instances of violence in this book may be a bit gruesome for some readers.

I don't think I've read a book where the characters spend a lot of time in a library since I read A Discovery of Witches  so I really enjoyed this setting.

Have any of you read this book? Or, can you recommend any other books where one of the main settings is a library?


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for doing a review!

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

@TNJ: You're very welcome.