14 August, 2013

#BookReview :: The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

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?


This book is unique in my case because I decided to pick it up based on the title alone. I mean what could be more attractive than ‘The Bookstore’ to a bookworm like me?

Esme is in her early twenties with a full scholarship to Columbia. Originally from Britain, she is in states on a student visa. The story starts when she discovers that she is pregnant. Her boyfriend, Mitchell, dumps her before she can tell him about her pregnancy. So, she decides that she will keep the baby, get a job and continue with her studies – all on her own. She finds a job at a bookstore called ‘The Owl’ that is barely thriving. Then Mitchell re-enters her life and after finding out about her pregnancy tries to convince her to go for an abortion with threats and bribe. But Esme finds her own footing and takes control of her life with the help of an add mix of co-workers and customers at ‘The Owl’.

Though in the end I could not help but like Esme as a character, I kept wondering throughout the novel about how a clearly intelligent girl like her (she did win that full scholarship to Columbia) could be such a fool when it came to men! I mean Mitchell treated like trash, yet she kept going back to him. And by God, I would love to plant a nice kick at Mitchell! He is a character that had me fuming from the very beginning. Such a jerk. The wide variety of characters that worked at the bookstore and dropped by often as customers were a bright patch in the novel. I loved these quirky people who brightened up not only Esme’s life but also the novel.

As for the plot, there isn’t much to it other than Esme and Mitchell’s push and pull relationship. It would have been a drag if it hadn’t been for the sundry other characters. But it was certainly getting irritating with me mentally screaming at Esme to not to go back to the jerk again and again. But the author kind of made up for it with her detailed description of place and settings. For a person who hasn’t been anywhere outside India, I was able to create a detailed imagery of what the bookstore and its neighbourhood might look like in the backdrop of New York City.

Overall, this is a 50-50 kinda book. It was an okay read though I wouldn’t miss much if I hadn’t picked it up.


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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I saw this one too and was torn as to whether or not to add this to my TBR. Appreciate the honest review.

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