November 14, 2022 7:56 AM EST

In her latest novel, prolific author Elizabeth McCracken introduces her narrator, an unnamed writer, as she arrives in London just 10 months after the death of her mother. The city holds a special significance for the woman—it was one of her mother’s favorite places. As she begins the emotional trip, she reflects on their relationship and whether the mere act of writing down those reflections is a disservice to the woman she so dearly loved. Though it’s a work of fiction, The Hero of This Book bears many resemblances to McCracken’s own life, including the name of the narrator’s mother. Throughout, she asks probing questions about the boundaries between novel and memoir. The result is a crushing portrait of a woman grappling with grief, love, and the power of words. —Annabel Gutterman

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