Thursday, August 27, 2020

{Review} NO BOOK BUT THE WORLD by Leah Hager Cohen


I found this book in a Dollar General. When you're holding the book in your hands, the cover looks as if you could tear away the rest of the painting and reveal the stark white cover with its black-printed words. It's so realistic I had to pick it up and read the summary. I was sold. I bought it.

That was about 2 years ago. I've finally read the book and, before I tell you my thoughts, let me give you a bit of background.

Fred and Ava were raised by two parents who were VERY unconventional. They, Fred and Ava, could be considered home-schooled although it seemed to be more of a moral and social experiment where their father is concerned. Fred and Ava were never disciplined. Instead, if they had tantrums or fits of anger, they were closely studied and asked questions about how they felt, why they did what they did, and so on. Being raised like that can make one feel as if they're more knowledgeable and socially/morally aware than others in mainstream society or it can make one feel like an outsider, an outcast, not as good as those in mainstream society. Either way, it's a very extreme environment to raise children. There's really no middle ground, no gray areas.

Fred was the youngest. He also had issues that wouldn't allow him to behave as others. It was never defined in the book, because that would go against their father's theories of raising children, but it sounded as if Fred had some form of autism. He would go off on his own and stay outside for a day or two. He eventually tried to live a "normal" life by getting jobs, finding places to live, etc. but he was never really accepted by most people because they didn't understand him.

Ava, being the eldest, always felt protective over Fred, even when she was tired of him. Of course, when she did feel tired of Fred she would then feel guilty for feeling tired of Fred. Once their parents died, Fred went off with a former member of their community and Ava followed her own path. She didn't stay in touch with him as much as she felt she should have but there was always an excuse as to why she couldn't. You know how it goes, right? We make time for what we want and when we don't want to do something, we'll allow the smallest excuse to keep us from doing what we should. That was grown-up Ava.

Enter the present. Fred is in jail for his alleged involvement in the death of a minor. Ava goes to the town where he's in jail to visit with his lawyer. Ava knows people don't understand Fred and how he is so she's trying to make him known to Bayard Charles, Fred's defense attorney.

As the story unfolds, we all learn more about Ava, Fred, Kitty, and their entire world they grew up in. We learn of the circumstances leading up to Fred's arrest. Did he have anything to do with the boy's death? Was it an accident? Was it natural causes?

Even without knowing the author's background, I could tell she is an extremely intelligent woman. The way she wrote her novel reveals that about herself. She made child-Ava sound more intelligent than I've ever known a child to think, reason, speak, and feel. The author used so many words I've never heard or read before that I almost opened a dictionary app on my phone just so I could understand what she was trying to say. I didn't open the dictionary app. I understood the gist of the portion of the story I was reading and that was good enough for me. Thinking about the story in retrospect, it was interesting and uniquely done. Ava, being the narrator, was the most fleshed-out character in the book. I would've liked to have known more about her parents, but that would've made the book longer than I would've wanted to read. I didn't hate the book but I didn't love it either. However, it did make me think. Overall, I'd give No Book but the World three stars.


  1. I love the cover, but it sounds as if the story itself is overwritten. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    1. Definitely overwritten, but I am glad to have it crossed off my TBR list.


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