Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck

Here Lies the LibrarianBook Review:  Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck

A tornado sweeps through a small town in Hendricks County, Indiana and does more than just wreak havoc in Buelahland Cemetery.  Interest in its aftermath brings four library students from nearby Butler University on a roadtrip to see the damage.  The town will never be the same; nor will the lives of Peewee and Jake McGrath.

A couple of squeamish moments aside, this was a fun book.  I loved Peewee and Jake’s relationship — parentless from a young age, they share a deep bond and look out for one another.  Their house may not be the tidiest and their best meals may come from neighbors, but Jake does his best to look out for his younger sibling.  Together they run a small garage and try to fend off the ne’er-do-well Kirbys who run the town’s other, less reputable garage.

Having attended Butler University myself, although long after they discontinued their library science program, I was delighted when Irene Ridpath and her sorority sisters entered the scene. Daughters of wealthy men, whose fathers collectively purchase their librarian positions for them, their lives of privilege are a stark contrast to the McGraths’.  We get to know Irene the best.  While her background may be difficult to relate to, her kindness, generosity, and independence make her an incredibly likable character.  Highly intelligent, Irene is also quick enough with her responses to make a Gilmore Girl proud.  Set aside any librarian stereotypes — Irene is the quintessential librarian.

Set in 1914, today’s teens may find themselves hitting the dictionary for terms like chiffonier, but even without a dictionary, it’s an easy read.  The characters are quirky, the language is folksy, and the humor is laugh out loud. Car enthusiasts will appreciate Jake’s determination to build his own car, Peewee’s first driving lesson in a Stoddard-Dayton, and a detailed account of a ten-mile stock auto dirt-track race.  Highly recommended.







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