The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman, review by Shelly Walston
If there's one thing I know, it's that trivia teams bond over the most trivial of matters, and their members are willing to hold onto to each other with a tight-fisted grip like none other. And for Nina Hill, that tight-knit group is all she needs in her life. Well, as far as people are concerned.
Nina Hill, central character of Abbi Waxman's novel The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, is a confirmed introvert. She loves her routines, her cat named Paul, and her books. Lucky for Nina, the life she's carved for herself fits these loves perfectly: she gets her book fix at work - she's a bookseller - and she gets the requisite number of "social time" with her trivia team. She's an only child, and her mother - a well-known photographer - keeps her distance, not because she's unloving, but because she's just ... always on assignment in far-off places.
When Nina isn't selling books at a cozy shop in Southern California, she's either spending her time researching down rabbit holes for trivia, organizing and re-organizing the corner in her studio apartment that she's devoted to organization, setting new goals for herself in her daily journal entries, or curled up in her favorite chair, surrounded by books, reading into the wee hours of each morning. Her life is hers, and it's her ideal. Until she gets a visit from a lawyer; it turns out that the father she never knew - an arrangement her mother made - has recently died, leaving Nina with a new and quite large family.
Learning to navigate siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and her father's ex-wives becomes a labor that Nina doesn't necessarily love, but one that she learns to tolerate - even enjoy. She struggles to overcome her anxiety around others while at the same time aiming to get her trivia team to the finals. It's almost too much...until it isn't.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is sweet but not saccharine, enjoyable and un-put-downable. Waxman has created a character in Nina who is lovable, bookish, and real. This book is ideal for people who read and loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin.