Adult Assembly Required
May 17, 2022
Blurb: When Laura Costello moves to Los Angeles, trying to escape an overprotective family and the haunting memories of a terrible accident, she doesn’t expect to be homeless after a week. (She’s pretty sure she didn’t start that fire — right?) She also doesn’t expect to find herself adopted by a rogue bookseller, installed in a lovely but completely illegal boardinghouse, or challenged to save a losing trivia team from ignominy…but that’s what happens. Add a regretful landlady, a gorgeous housemate and an ex-boyfriend determined to put himself back in the running and you’ll see why Laura isn’t really sure she’s cut out for this adulting thing. Luckily for her, her new friends Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob aren’t sure either, but maybe if they put their heads (and hearts) together they’ll be able to make it work.
In much the same way that I adored Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, I absolutely adored Adult Assembly Required–same author, similar cast of characters, same type of love story, same quirkiness . . . so, so much heart.
Laura Costello was in a horrible automobile accident. She’s scarred, mentally and physically. At one point, the doctors treating her thought she might never walk again. But through physical therapy, she did learn to walk again and during that time she realized that that was what she wanted to do with her life: help other people regain what they had lost. Although her heart’s desire goes against everything that her parents had wanted for her and the path that they and her brothers were all directed toward, she feels that she must move forward or admit that she is a failure. To break free from her family and her ex-fiancé, she leaves NYC for Los Angeles, but even then events don’t work out perfectly, or, seemingly, at all. Her new apartment building catches fire and everything she’d brought with her is lost as well as her new home. But, alas, not everything is lost because she wanders into a bookstore where Nina Hill and the beautifully eccentric Polly work and, of course, Polly happens to know of a place where Laura can stay.
Polly lives in a house with the wonderful landlord, Maggie, Impossibly Handsome Bob who catches Laura’s eye and vice versa, Libby and Anna, who may or may not be bridge hustlers, and all of these characters feature to different degrees in this exquisitely eccentric and delightful novel.
The POV often jumps from character to character, which I have to admit that I’ve gotten used to but which may annoy other readers. There is something about Abbi Waxman’s delivery that works, as well, to make it less annoying. And there is something about Waxman’s writing as a whole that is different but wonderful. The assertions she makes. The off-handed comments. The sometimes dry but equally hysterical observations.
Adult Assembly Required is a novel that wades adeptly through various emotions and always offers lots of laughter along the way as we follow Laura’s transition from sensory overload to growing accustomed and finally facing her fears head on, if only out of necessity.
While I would love to tell you that this is a standalone novel and maybe, kind of, is, I would highly recommend that you read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill first so that you’re introduced to several of the characters that revisit in Adult Assembly Required. I can assure you that this is no hardship reading. Both book are delightful and make me hope that there is a Polly book in the offing…or more than one. In fact, I could quite easily–and happily–read about the characters in Nina Hill’s world for the next decade or longer.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.