Thursday, July 21, 2016

You Want to Know What Family Is? Read: The Ones Who Matter Most, by Rachael Herron - NOW!

2 years ago, I read Rachael Herron's book, Pack Up the Moon.  I really liked it a lot.  But I hadn't made any effort to read either of her other books - until now.  Why now?  Well, I've got a very selfish reason.  I was hoping that Rachael would agree to be our RBC author for August or September so that I could have our members read Pack Up the Moon.  Only Rachael said that she wasn't promoting that book anymore.  She said that The Ones Who Matter Most" (TOWMM), which came out in April of this year, was the one she was presenting.  What could I do?  I got a hold of TOWMM and read about 100 pages before I emailed her and said:  "YES!"  I was really enjoying it.  We agreed on a date (Tuesday, August 30).  And then, of course, I kept reading.  Were the last 300 pages of the book at the same level as the 1st 100?  Nope.  THEY WERE BETTER!  What a terrific book.  Here is the back-flap summary:

After her husband dies unexpectedly, Abby Roberts comes across something startling: wedding photographs of him with another woman, along with pictures of a baby boy. Shocked, Abby does something utterly impulsive: She embarks on a journey to discover the family her husband apparently left behind.
Money has always been tight for single mom Fern Reyes, and never tighter than now.  But this month, in place of a child-support check, her ex's pretty, privileged wife appears on her doorstep with far too many questions.  Unfortunately, her young son is so taken with Abby that Fern doesn't have the heart to send her away.
What begins as one woman's search for truth becomes a deep bond forged between the unlikeliest of people, and the discovery that there are many ways to make a family-as long as you take care... 

That is no lie about what goes into making a family.  And on top of that, the writing is excellent.  A very few standout examples:

1.  A potential past wife trumped a possible fling like the sun trumped a flashlight.
2.  "But if you show up with a washer, I'll kick you so hard in the balls you"ll wish you were born with ovaries."  It was the same thing as I love you.  Diego smiled and kept his eyes on the ceiling of the sky.  That was his way of saying it back.
3.  She laughed, the feel of it rusty in her throat.
4.  The abrupt change in topic felt like a change in elevation.  Abby could almost hear her ears pop.

There are a million more.  But there were definitely other reasons why I liked this book so much.  Wanna hear (read) 'em?  Of course you do:

1.  I was very emotionally connected to the characters/story.  In fact, I made a note at one point that said "major crying."
2.  The 1st 48 pages of the book are in the voice of Abby.  Page 49 is the 1st time we hear Fern's voice.  I liked the timing of making the switch from Abby to Fern.  AND I liked that the rest of the book goes back and forth.  I equally responded to both protagonists.
3.  You want to know how much I liked this book?  I actually smiled a bunch in a section about a dog!  Yep.  For those of you who know me, you also know that this is unheard of.  I am absolutely not an animal person (although I really do like Bob, the cat at Recycle Books).
4.  Rachael does a great job with the ending.  That's all I can tell you now.  We'll discuss it after you've read the book.
5.  I don't want to make too big a deal about the fact that the book takes place in the East Bay, where I grew up.  I will just say that she mentions Albany, Berkeley, and Oakland - the 3 cities that I grew up in!
6.  Rachael gives descriptions of having a miscarriage and how a cremulator (for cremation) works that felt very real.

Something else I rarely (if ever) do is quote the author in a Conversation Guide or Acknowledgement Page.  But I'm going to do that here.  The reason is that I think it really captures the essence of a work of fiction that sprinkles in  segments of nonfiction (see #6 above):

Dropping pieces of nonfiction into fiction creates a small, tangible connection: real life intersecting with the imaginary.  Characters meeting "characters."  The whole book, of course, is mine.  It came out of my head, so it belongs to me (and really, I belong to it).  But those tiny real-life cameos can help bring books to life.

Final thought?  I couldn't be happier that Rachael "made" me read one of her other books. I would have been content to revisit Pack Up the Moon.  But then I might never have read The Ones Who Matter Most.  That would have been a real shame.


  1. Sounds like this will make a great RBC selection. Can't wait to read and discuss it.

    1. I totally agree. It's going to be a fun one to talk about.

  2. You've sold me! I'll add this book to my list right now.

  3. I read one of her books years ago and didn't read more for some reason. You've made me feel like I've really missed out. I can tell how immersed you felt in this book. I'm adding it to my wish list.