Review | The Bookshop of Yesterdays : by Amy Meyerson

If you have a favorite independent book store, and find your regular visits there to be rewarding and perhaps even therapeutic, you will find this book interesting. The story leads you on a scavenger hunt with clues that are interwoven with lessons and stories from classic and popular literature. In her debut novel, Meyerson reveals a complex family dynamic to highlight the significance of truth and the need for forgiveness.

“Every family has its unspoken stories. Billy was ours. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was sad.”

Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy”s bookstore, Prospero Books, solving inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. The story takes-off on Miranda’s twelfth birthday when Billy and his sister, Miranda’s mother, have a mysterious falling-out and Billy suddenly disappears from Miranda’s life.

Fast forward a decade and a half – Miranda is 27 years old. Upon the announcement of Billy’s unexpected death, Miranda receives an envelope through the post containing a copy of “The Tempest” from her Uncle Billy. In addition, Miranda learns that Billy has willed her ownership of Prospero Books. Billy’s final scavenger hunt for Miranda begins here, as Miranda returns to Los Angeles to save the cash starved bookstore.

“I Billy Silver, hereby bequeath Prospero Books to Miranda and a copy of “Jane Eyre”.”

Billy once told Miranda, “Understanding prepares us for the future.” In “The Tempest”, Prospero told Miranda, “Thou must now know further.” The adventure begins.

Billy is a bit of an enigma. His real job was as a world travelling seismologist. When he wasn’t chasing earthquakes, he returned to Los Angeles and his passionate job as owner of Prospero Books. Miranda finds each clue in Billy’s last scavenger hunt within the volumes in the bookstore. Each riddle leads to another book:

  • Jane Eyre
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Frankenstein
  • Fear of Flying
  • Persausion
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Bridge to Terabithia

Billy, being a scientist, dabbles in string theory and parallel universes. Quite a complex character.

Miranda’s journey leads her to meet people from Billy’s past. People whose stories reveal a history that Miranda’s mother has kept hidden – the secret that tore her family apart. A secret that once exposed shapes Miranda’s furure.

“Loving something and being responsible for it are two different things.”

For me, this quote sums it up.

Published by Audrey Newhall

I am an avid reader and contributor to Penna Book Reviews

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