I tried not to set my expectations too high for this book. With a title like "The Bookstore," I really wanted to love it. The good news is that at times I did. A lot. At other times I was scratching my head.
Let me explain. Esme Garland is a 20-something from England living in New York, where she is working on her PhD. Smart girl, right? Yes, expect for when she is a complete idiot! Which is quite a bit of the time, actually, from about the midway point of the book on. She puts up with about 20 things from her boyfriend, Mitchell, that would have been deal-breakers for me--and he would never even look twice at someone like me. He is a 100%, Grade-A jackass. Esme loooooves him, though, even though I never really understood why.
Another thing that annoyed me about Esme was her attitude at times. Basically she acts as if she is always right, and she most definitely is not. At one point, following a blow-up with her boyfriend's parents, she says, "I was rude, but I was right." Um, no. She complains that her boyfriend and her family are set in their ways, but she is just as bad, really.
As for the plot, it's pretty predictable. Grad student gets pregnant and has to deal with jerk boyfriend. Finds job at quaint bookstore where quirky people abound. Now, to me, being predictable is not necessarily a bad thing. I liked it in spite of that. I mean, there are only so many plots out there; it's difficult to always find something original. To me, it's about how you write it and make it your own, and I think Deborah Meyler does a good job of that.
Even though I wanted to choke Esme at times (okay, a lot of the time), I still found myself liking her. She is human. Some of the stupid things she says are quite hilarious. I also especially like the characters of George, her boss at the bookstore, and her co-worker, Luke. In all honesty, some of the other characters ran together. I had a hard time keeping the other co-workers, customers, and homeless guys straight.
There is some great description in this book and some excellent emotional insight. Once I got past the first couple of chapters, where Esme is going on and on and on and on (and on and on) about what to do about the pregnancy, there was a lot of good stuff. I laughed, I cried, and I looked forward to reading it each time I picked it up, which was the main thing.
Overall, I'd give "The Bookstore" 3.5 stars. It's a good debut effort.