Lila by Marilynne Robinson is the 2016 All Iowa Reads book and I want to encourage everyone to read it. Robinson is a brilliant author, her last four novels have been: a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, awarded the 2005 Pulitzer, awarded the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction, and awarded the 2014 National Book Critics Fiction Prize. Lila, the fourth in this list and the third book revolving around the small Iowa town of Gilead is a remarkable story of how a child grows into a woman dealing with abandonment and deprivation, struggling to understand her past and envision a more hopeful future. Sounds grim, doesn’t it? And, yet, somehow it is an inspiring tale of a fierce, obstinate woman I wish I could talk to.
This is the first time the All Iowa Reads committee has selected a second book by the same author (Gilead was an earlier selection), but this story and how it is told deserves a broad audience. I find Lila a much easier read than Gilead. I like Lila more than I did Reverend Ames. I find her story compelling and the narrative– although it jumps from present to past and is not sequential– easier to follow. Several people I know tried to read Gilead and put it down before they were finished, I urged them to give Lila a try, and one who did said it was an excellent book they enjoyed very much.
The Library has many copies of the book — in regular print, large print, e-book, audio on compact disc and downloadable, plus a book club kit. I highly recommend the book to all readers and it is a great discussion book for reading groups as well.