Ask a bookseller

A shadowy book about the end of the world and the power of letters

'Scribe' by Alyson Hagy
'Scribe' by Alyson Hagy
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Margaret Leonard of Dotters Books in Eau Claire, Wis.

The unnamed narrator at the center of "Scribe" lives in a harsh world, ravaged by war and fever.

People survive by bartering what they have, and what she has is pen and paper. In exchange for firewood or food, she writes letters for people.

"The book starts with this man named Hendricks coming to her and asking her to write his confession of all of the terrible things he's done through his entire life," said bookseller Margaret Leonard. "And he's asking her to then go and share his words with the people that he's wronged."

But the world outside her farmstead is filled with dangers. No one can be trusted.

"There's very little security in the way that they're all living, so she has a lot of doubts," Leonard said. "But I also think it's clear that she really doesn't want to live that way anymore.

"So I think even though you have this entire book that's pretty shadowy, pretty dark, kind of violent, ultimately it ends with this very hopeful discussion that if you allow yourself to trust and maybe even love someone, there's healing."

For a book set after the destruction of society as we know it, Leonard said, "I found it strangely uplifting."

Scribe Scribe