By Deborah Meyler
Gallery Books, 2013
Source: E-Galley (Edelweiss/NetGalley)
A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.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. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.
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?
A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.
So I was disappointed in this book. I wanted the bookstore to be a character in the book - to have a personality and life and be the focus of the book. In reality, the focus of the book was Esme's unplanned pregnancy and her strange relationship with the father. I wanted her to dump him so fast his head spun, but because of situations, she let him stick around - even though she knew better. I understand that she didn't want to have to be alone during this time, but it's better some times to be alone than be with a poisonous jerk.
I liked the characters who were a part of the bookstore, but they weren't featured enough. I thought the focus would be on the characters who came in and out of the bookstore, and Esme would be one of them that told the story of the others. I would have liked to see more of them all. I suppose that I didn't like this book as much as others because of my expectations.
I squeezed this one into my reading schedule because of its high rating on Goodreads, but I kind of wish I had focused on a teen book instead. I think that whether or not you like this depends on what you're looking for when you pick it up.