The Bookshop of Yesterdays

I read The Bookshop of Yesterdays (2018) by Amy Meyerson in one sitting. Granted, I hadn’t had time to read much (I had been readying my house for sale and then moving–hence the sporadic nature of my posts) so I loved getting drawn in to Miranda’s quest to find out why her mother and her Uncle Billy stopped talking decades ago.

It was also mostly weight-neutral. There were a few descriptions of Miranda’s mother’s “slight” figure, and I vaguely recalled a single description of one male character not being very attractive, but otherwise the author didn’t use negative stereotypes for character’s appearances at all.

Miranda teaches History/ Social Studies to middle schoolers and is newly living with a fellow teacher, a man who is more of a coach than a teacher. She receives a package in the mail from her Uncle Billy’s bookstore, with a book and a clue. She hasn’t spoken to him since her twelfth birthday, when he bought her a puppy and her parents wouldn’t allow her to keep it. He would make up scavenger hunts for their outings and his gifts to her, but all contact with him suddenly stopped after the puppy incident.

At the beginning of summer break, Miranda’s mother calls her with the news that Uncle Billy has died, so Miranda decides to go home to the funeral and find out who sent this package. She meets the bookstore employees, and Billy’s lawyer, who informs her that he left the bookstore to her, but that it does not make a profit, so she should probably sell it.

She wants to give the bookstore a chance, so she stays in L.A. for a while, growing further and further apart from her partner back in Philadelphia. She solves the clue from the book she was sent, and another, and another, but instead of answering questions, she has more and more. She meets people from Billy’s life who tell her what they know, but her parents refuse to tell her anything.

Through it all, Miranda reads the books and the clues that Billy leaves for her–from Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying to Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland. I really enjoyed it, but not everyone in my book group that read it was as enthusiastic as I was. But if you are in the mood for a family mystery/ drama full of literary references and generally free of anti-fat bias, you might want to try it.

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