The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson Publication Date: June 12th, 2018 Publisher: Park Row Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Synopsis: A woman inherits a beloved bookstore and sets forth on a journey of self-discovery in this poignant debut about family, forgiveness and a love of reading. Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy’s bookstore, solving the inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on Miranda’s twelfth birthday, Billy has a mysterious falling-out with her mother and suddenly disappears from Miranda’s life. She doesn’t hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives unexpected news: Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy—and one final scavenger hunt.
Thoughts: I think I will start off by saying that this book was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. I was extremely intrigued by the synopsis and excited to read it when I received it as a Christmas gift and I wish that I had loved it. There were a few things that this book had going for it including how much Amy Meyerson clearly loves literature. The premise of the scavenger hunt that brought the joy from her childhood into her adulthood seemed like such a fresh idea and I wanted to uncover the secrets that Billy was hiding just as much as Miranda… well, maybe not quite. What really upset me while reading The Bookshop of Yesterdays was that it really just wasn’t well executed. The scavenger hunt which I was so excited about became lost amongst all of the other trivial plots of the story and made me lose interest quite quickly. A massive part of the plot was meant to be a story of self-discovery for Miranda but I disliked every single part of her as a character that I could not find reason to care about this journey she was going on. The characters themselves were flat and not really written to my taste - meaning that none were like-able and none had depth. Through much of my time reading this book, it felt like work.
I was working too hard to understand the relationship Miranda and her boyfriend had. They seemed to like each other and live together but absolutely could not stand each other aside from one or two moments that they seemed to tolerate one another. Miranda focused so much about what she did not like about him (can’t even be bothered to remember his name) that their relationship just seemed pointless and only really existed to provide a false sense of conflict regarding staying or going. This really could have been accomplished by just emphasizing how much Miranda loved her job and school.
I was working too hard to figure out why I should care about how Miranda’s parents felt. They were both cagey and obviously keeping secrets just for the sake of keeping secrets. Miranda seems to think of herself as a modern day Nancy Drew, and I say that with the utmost hesitation because Nancy does not deserve that, as she seems to find a secret in the lives of LITERALLY everyone. Even if there is no secret, she believes whole-heartedly that there is one and she NEEDS to know it. Additionally, every character that she comes into contact with who has a part in her uncle Billy’s past, seems to have this amazingly uncanny ability to give her a play-by-play flashback of a moment in his life that they weren’t even there for 30+ years ago but can tell you word for word everything that happened after presumably being told all of this from Billy. Conveniently though, one person’s flashback from their own memory was incorrect for… plot point reasons… As I have said many times, mystery books aren’t really my cup of tea because the mystery is usually fairly obvious and the mystery of this book was much of the same. Less that 30 pages in and the book is pretty much hitting you upside the head with what the Big Twist is. Oh, it tries to make you second guess yourself (refer to incorrect memory flashback as mentioned above) but there really is no other answer. Clearly you can tell the many aspects of this book that I did not like and, to be honest, there are more but I feel like you get the point. As I said at the start though, it is clear how much Meyerson loves books - The Tempest in particular - and she worked very hard to have that shine through in her story. I think it just missed the mark and got lost amongst subplot after subplot and poor character development.