Love Overdue / Pamela Morsi. 2013
Hello friends! Sorry for the long silence of late. I'm still here, still reading and quilting, and still hopeful to find time to share more of it with you. I read this book the other day and am anxious to talk about it. So here goes.
I have to start out this review with a little conversation about me :)
I'm a librarian who has spent her career in the technical services (cataloging and acquisitions) departments of 3 different academic libraries. Despite spending a few years doing some fill-in Sunday reference work in a large public library, I really have no significant public library experience. Like many of you reading this, I am a huge user and supporter of my local public library. Most of us academic types are far more used to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. It's very different from the Dewey Decimal system (DDC) used in most public and school libraries. The DDC was created in 1876 and while it has been revised and updated nearly 2 dozen times since, its "bones" reflect the world as it was understood in the 19th century. LC was created not too long after, but really developed in the early part of the 20th century and it reflects the collection of the Library of Congress. They are very different beasts.
Despite the fact that I've been using LC in my work for the last 30 years, I actually cut my eye-teeth on DDC, because my first library job was at one of the few large academic libraries that had never made the switch from DDC to LC. I have a soft spot for DDC despite my academic snobbery which insists LC is better. I have an old t-shirt (that will someday make its way into a quilt) from that first job with the picture of a woman cataloging books and labeled with the Dewey number for baseball (796.357) and Cuttered with my last name. Each of us in the department chose a Dewey number for their favorite hobby or pastime.
Anyhow, Pamela Morsi's latest book, Love Overdue, uses the DDC in the most awesome way. I can't begin to tell you how delighted I was as chapter by chapter, Morsi took me through the DDC as she told her story about a small town librarian who rediscovers the love of her life. Imagine the thought and craft that had to go into telling a story while finding elements that correspond with specific class numbers in almost all of the major divisions: Philosophy (100's), Social Sciences (300's), Languages (400's), etc. And to do it in a progressive fashion, i.e. start in the 000's and progress to the 900's, just the way you might walk through the stacks of any public library. The result is chapter headings such as "304.3: Factors Affecting Social Behavior" and "631.2: Agriculture: Techniques, Equipment." Morsi did a brilliant job of incorporating the concepts of the various DDC numbers into those chapters.
Love Overdue is the story of Dorothy (D.J.) Jarrow, a librarian who has moved to the small town of Verdant, KS to assume leadership of the Verdant Public Library. D.J. had a lonely childhood and after college, graduate school, and a job working for a boss from hell, D.J. is anxious to find a place to call home. (Oh, did I forget to mention the homage to Wizard of Oz?) D.J. arrives to find an interfering landlady, a library that's dark, unwelcoming, and way behind the times, and typical small town characters who know everything about everyone. D.J. also discovers that Verdant's resident pharmacist, Scott Sanderson, son of the interfering landlady, is also the sexy guy D.J. had had a one-night stand with many years earlier while on Spring Break on South Padre Island.
Scott knows D.J. is familiar, but he doesn't recognize her as the girl who's haunted his dreams all these years since their hook-up. The night was embarrassing for D.J. and she's not anxious to admit they'd met before. D.J.'s initial mortified reaction to meeting Scott has him sensing her hostility and in no mood to try and get to know her. But his (interfering) mother convinces him to spend time with D.J. and in time she lets down her guard enough that they really get to know one another, even as D.J. continues to keep secret their previous encounter.
See, that night was so embarrassing for D.J. that in the years since she made herself into a conservative, up-tight woman--thereby meeting the popular librarian stereotype. As we get to know D.J., though, she is not that stereotype. She has modern ideas of what a library should be and she's willing to make whatever changes she has to in order to make her library the centerpiece of Verdant. And Scott, who had been burned before (and not just by that encounter with D.J. all those years ago), begins to believe that he has met the one woman for him.
There are so many things happening in this book: D.J. and Scott take center stage, but there are issues of death and grieving, finding ways to help people cope with change, breaking down stereotypes and assumptions, and even life in Kansas during the wheat harvest. Sometimes a book will hit all the right buttons and make you stand up and admire the work and craft that went into writing that book. Love Overdue hit those buttons for me. That I could also thoroughly invest in the romance made the book doubly enjoyable.
So, how much did I love this book? The copy I read is one I borrowed from my public library. When I finished it, I bought a copy for myself.