Twelve-year-old Bobby Nusku always thought that the kinds of things that happen in books couldn’t possibly happen to him but is about to discover that real life can be even stranger and more glorious than fiction . . .
Bobby spends his days in fear of his father and missing his mother, collecting traces of her life and waiting for her to return home. After his best friend Sunny is injured whilst trying to protect him, Bobby thinks he’s been left to face the world alone – until he meets single mother Val and her daughter Rosa. The three spend a magical summer together, discovering the books in the mobile library where Val works as a cleaner.
As the summer draws to a close, Bobby and Val each find themselves in trouble, and the mobile library seems to offer the only way out. Encountering a mysterious stranger on their journey across the country, they form an unlikely family and experience an adventure to rival those in the books that surround them.
Quirky, dark, magical and full of heart, Mobile Library is both a tragicomic road trip and a celebration of the adventures that books can take us on. It’s a love-letter to the myriad forms families take and to the stories that shaped us.
Read if you loved: The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon
David Whitehouse Biography
David Whitehouse is an award-winning novelist, journalist and screenwriter.
His first novel, Bed, won the 2012 Betty Trask Award and was published in 14 languages.
David writes regularly for the Guardian and The Times and is editor-at-large of ShortListmagazine.
Originally from Warwickshire, he now lives in London.
David Whitehouse on the Inspiration Behind Mobile Library
I grew up in a town I wanted to escape, the streets and sky a swatch of steely gray. We were poor, and one autumn my mother took a second job as a cleaner at the local mobile library. I was 11 or 12 and should have been too young to realise it, but suspect I still knew these long days of drizzle would prove epiphanic.
The mobile library was concealed inside a huge blue truck. We would go there when it closed. My mother would twist the key inside the lock and let me press the big red button. A staircase unfurled from the back like the tongue of a dozing dragon.
For a few hours, while she dusted the shelves and vacuumed the carpet, the mobile library was mine. I read voraciously and indiscriminately, not just feeding my imagination, but fattening it. I discovered authors like Roald Dahl, Paul Jennings, Clive King and David Almond, writers whose sensibilities, stories and powers of creation informed not just the child I was then, but the grown up I am now. What is poured into the mould of the boy, sets in the cast of the man.
When I came to write myself, I was eager to explore this specific time in youth – where a child realises that the world is far bigger, far greater and far more fantastic than the place where they were raised, or the family they were born into, and that an imagination nurtured by stories or the people they meet can be the key to a better and more fulfilling existence. That it can save you.
And that’s what Mobile Library is about: a boy, Bobby Nusku, in the exact moment where his entire lifetime’s happiness might be won or lost. Bobby becomes the unlikely best friend of Val, a grown woman who lives on his street, and her young daughter, Rosa, and they escape their dreadful lives by eloping together in a mobile library, a strange band of misfits who come to learn they need one another when their own story becomes one worthy of the thousands of books lining the walls.
It’s a story for adults, but I hope it finds the child in anyone that reads it.