Quickie: Haunting and beautiful. It sticks with you.
Full: I picked up this graphic novel from the library the other day. It was on display on top of the graphic novel/manga shelves, and it caught my eye. First, the title- The Night Bookmobile? Why would a bookmobile need to run at night? Then the author- Audrey Niffenegger! I love her! Then the cover- Why does she look so sad? Then I picked up the book and looked at the back, where Neil Gaiman has a blurb. If I wasn't already sold, I was then.
This is what the brilliant Neil had to say:
"The Night Bookmobile is a love letter, both elegiac and heartbreaking, to the things we have read, and to the readers that we are. It says that what we read makes us who we are. It's a graphic short story, beautifully drawn and perfectly told, a cautionary fantasia for anyone who has ever loved books, and I hope the story of the library, of Alexandra, finds its place on the shelves of the night bookmobiles of all of us who'd care. It's a treasure." --Neil Gaiman
After that, how could I not check this book out?
The story starts with Alexandra, our MC, wandering the streets of Chicago one night. She notices a Winnebego, all lit up and blaring "I Shot The Sheriff." As she passes by, she she can't help but steal a glance inside, as the door is standing open. There she sees an older man, and he invites her in to "see the collection". He hands her a card that reads:
The Night Bookmobile
Robert Openshaw, Librarian
Hours: Dusk to Dawn
Once inside, she soon realizes that she's read every book in the bookmobile. Not just that, but it was everything she had ever read in her life. A complete history of her literary life. All there. Alexandra is fascinated, flipping through pages of her childhood story books, her most recently read novels, and even her diary.
Too soon, it's time for her to go. The library is closing. She vows to return the next night and visit the bookmobile again, but alas, it isn't there when she tries to find it. Night after night she returns to the place where she first saw the Winnebego, but it's never there. She starts wandering the streets, searching.
Eventually she does find it again, but this is where my synopsis ends. If I told you any more, it would spoil the story for you.
So what's the haunting part of The Night Bookmobile, you ask? Well, remember the part in Mister Gaiman's blurb that describes it as, "a cautionary tale"? That's the haunting part. And you'll have to read it for yourself to know what that cautionary, haunting element is. It's worth reading, trust me.
When I first finished the book, I sat there and thought, "What?!"But now I get it. And believe it or not, I've already put Audrey's lesson in to practice.
So yes, you should read it. You probably need Audrey's lesson as well. Maybe we all do.
5 out of 5 stars.