Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern

Riverton is a dying town in New Hampshire.  Like lots of communities that wererobbers library industry-heavy years ago, most of what could be called industry in Riverton has boarded up and moved on.

Amidst the few establishments that manage to hang on in Riverton is the public library, a Carnegie-built model that has its own yearly financial woes. Kit Jarvis, a librarian who wants nothing but solitude and the presence of the printed word, is glad to have a job there.  The routine is steady, nobody questions her previous life, and the regulars accept her.

Thrust into her self-established peace is Sunny, an atypical teenager raised off the grid who earns a summer of community service at the library for stealing a dictionary from the local bookstore.  As Kit’s luck would have it, she gets to mentor Sunny – and her carefully laid out life promises to get stranger.

Added to the mix is Rusty, a former high roller in finance who got the brunt end of the recession – his last claim to affluence is his Mercedes, and a scrap of paper that may spell out an inheritance of sorts, if he can prove that a bank from fifty plus years ago existed in Riverton.

It’s needless to say that Rusty becomes a regular at the library, a steady user of archives and the library’s creaky computers.  And Sunny, starved for a life beyond homeschooling and her counter-culture parents, becomes a hit with patrons and staff alike.

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library could have fallen into the “sweet little book” category, but it doesn’t.  Although the plot at first appears a little pat, the main characters are more complicated, and all three have intense back stories, as do others.  The narrative can be jarring at times as the story switches timelines often – the flow of the books suffers slightly from this.

To be honest, this is a minor quibble.  Kit and company prove to be characters that are care-worthy, and the book is enjoyable, decently written, and a quick read.  You’ll be cheering on Kit as she learns how to be…well…personable, Sunny as she shines doing story time and eats her first onion ring, and Rusty as he accepts hospitality and some humble pie in a rundown mom and pop motel.

To be damaged is to keep on rolling.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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