Sunday, September 03, 2017

Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood

Author Ann Hood is only a few months older than me. As a lifelong reader, her memoir, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, made me nostalgic for my adolescence. No, not for the adolescence itself. For the discovery and freshness and awakening brought about by books. Only a few of the books we read were the same, and our childhoods were definitely different. But, she evokes a feeling and a time period that was magical.

I cannot tell Ann Hood's story without ruining this book for a reader searching for connections. But, she was a reader and a dreamer in a family that didn't have books, and didn't understand the "need" for books that hungry readers have. Her feeling, "I want to live inside a book" came true for her with Little Women. And, each book she holds dear was a marker in her life, summarizing her ambitions in the '60s and '70s as she grew up. Each chapter talks about a book in her life, and the dreams marked by that title. These are the books that shaped her life, and her writing.

Hood's father fed her dreams. He was an Indiana boy who joined the navy to see the world, and every story he told about exotic places encouraged her. Those stories, and the books she read, fed her yearning for "beyond", for something beyond her own house, and her neighborhood, and her town.

Morningstar will resonate most with women of a similar age, women who remember the Vietnam War and Walter Cronkite always on the television. We still remember those all-girl talks at school about our period. We cried over Love Story. The characters in Little Women were as real to me as my own sisters, just as they were to Hood. While she was devastated when Beth died, it was the ending of Gone with the Wind that destroyed me a few years later. And, for both of us, the public library was a magical place of unimaginable possibilities.

Ann Hood beautifully sums up the feeling of a reader who has a passion for the books that change a life. "I understood that I would always buy books, that I was a reader and a writer and that to be surrounded by books would always bring me comfort."

Ann Hood's website is

Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017. ISBN 9780393254815 (hardcover), 160p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I must admit this sounds interesting. I'm also looking at a couple of her other books. Her life story is quite interesting.

Lesa said...

It really is, Jeff. She covers quite a bit of it in this book.

Kaye Barley said...

Oh, Lesa. THIS! Thank you!!!!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Kaye. I think you'll like it. In fact, I know you'll like it.