Books About Books · Reviews

“A Library of Lemons” by Jo Cotterill

This book was a gift from a friend who knows just how much I adore books… and lemons.

I had just finished Edith’s Diary by Patricia Highsmith when my eyes landed on the recently arrived copy of A Library of Lemons. Its bright cover seemed to whisper promises of a lightness that I most certainly craved after having read the haunting Highsmith. Little did I know…

I would say that A Library of Lemons is a considerately written novel about the importance of people – when I say people I don’t simply mean the ones that surround us, the others, but also ourselves, our own existence.

“People need people. You can’t just keep yourself apart all the time so that you don’t get hurt. All that means is you get hurt anyway and you’re alone.”

I believe Jo Cotterill more than succeeds at conveying the message that we need each other. We may not always know how to reach out, we may not always recognize when someone else is trying to reach out, but closing our eyes altogether will certainly not help. We may feel as if we are protecting our loved ones, but they know, they know something is going on, they just don’t know how to ask – or perhaps they are afraid.

I think this is one important book, particularly for young readers. The language is more than suitable for youngsters and the storyline creates a safe haven that I believe is vital to the process of learning how to open up. In a world that seems far too quick to judge, and way too slow when it comes to forgiving, A Library of Lemons is like a friendly hand leading us toward a middle ground that seems utopic to many, but that exists.

A novel about grief, yes. A Library of Lemons is the light at the end of a tunnel that might at first feel endlessly long. A Library of Lemons is a reminder that no matter how long, a tunnel will always be a tunnel and that means it will always have a way out.

Baby steps.

One. And another. And another…

“‘So… how can two opposite things both be normal?’

Mae bites her lip thoughtfully. ‘It sort of makes you wonder how anyone works out what normal is.’

‘And if no one is really sure…’ I say. ‘If people are just making up their own idea of normal, then…’

‘Then anything is normal. And everything,’ concludes Mae.”



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