The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

Title: The Bookstore
Author: Deborah Meyler
Publisher: Gallery Books
Expected Release: August 20, 2013
Source: publisher (Edelweiss)


Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant. Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

I feel compelled to start off with my strongest feelings about this novel. One that I’m pretty sure we readers are supposed to feel: I could not stand Mitchell van Leuven! Seriously, there are guys who act like that?! He is unbelievable. His behavior so bad I was often sitting there reading with my mouth hanging open. And what the heck was up with Esme’s relationship with Mitchell? It’s like she barely knew him at all. Yet time and time again, she dealt with this jerk, even after admitting to herself that if she were reading a novel and this was happening (clever technique there, by the way), she’d be telling herself to run far, far away from him!

Also, Esme has some really stupid beliefs about the way Americans do things. That our language has to be “in its simplest form” in order for us to understand, that we all cut our steaks the same way, that if something unexpected is said on the phone it confuses us. And she’s a little judgy, too. She sees a nanny with a little girl in the part and thinks “It’s a Saturday – do her parents work so hard they can’t even play with her on a Saturday?” Come on.

However. As often as I found Esme annoying, I really enjoyed this book. It was such a great story. I connected with the characters whether I liked them or not. I liked seeing Esme develop, shedding some of her preconceived notions and finding her own strength through a stressful situation.

But for me, the real stars of this novel were the minor characters. Esme’s roommate, Stella. The bookstore owner, George. DeeMo, Tee, and Dennis, the homeless who look after their friends at the bookstore. And Mrs. Kasperek, who is selling all of her books before moving into assisted living: “These books… They are all my life. These books are all my life.” (And this is where I cry).

Though perhaps a bit sudden, The Bookstore has an interesting, non-cliche ending.

This is Deborah Meyler’s debut novel. She has a very natural, flowing way of writing that makes you feel like you’re reading something fun and light, even when things get complicated (or when characters infuriate you!). 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

As you can imagine, a story about an independent bookstore is going to do some damage to your TBR list. I ended up making note of E.B. White’s Here Is New York especially. Also, this book gets bonus points from me for mentioning the book Bell Ringing: The English Art of Change-Ringing. 😉

About the author

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