“The Mariah Delany Lending Library Disaster” by Sheila Greenwald

As part of the recent attempt to get my kids reading novels, my 8yo son Guppy discovered and devoured several of my husband’s old McGurk mysteries by E. W. Hildick. This got me poking around, trying to remember some of my favorites from when I was his age and one of the books and titles that stuck with me all these decades later was Sheila Greenwald’s The Mariah Delany Lending Library Disaster.

This book was a delight to revisit. Mariah is the odd one out in a family of bookish nerds. She’s an entrepreneur, constantly being told to quit her scheming and read a book. In a lovely a ha moment, she realized she can combine both those things: her schemes and her family’s love of books:

Mariah tripped on a stack of unshelved volumes. She flopped on the sofa and picked up one of the tumbled books and looked around her at the piles and piles and shelves and shelves of them. She was surrounded. And then it hit her. The best idea she had ever had in her life…

ThiS new idea had everything. It filled a crying need…It involved practically no investment. She had the market and she had the goods. (13-14)

Mariah is a smart and funny main character, and I winced at the affectionate swipes at bookish families with piles of books around. Our house resembles that, and given Guppy’s resistance to reading novels, it was very timely.

Alas, Guppy wants nothing to do with this book. It has a girl in the title, a girl on the cover, and I suggested it to him too many times. It was a lovely flashback for me, though, plus it led me to another, very interesting and surprising book, which I’ll write about next, It All Began with Jane Eyre, or The Secret Life of Franny Dillman, also by Sheila Greenwald.

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