by KB Meniado
I signed up for the blog tour because I’ve read an older work by this author (and beta-read an upcoming one) that I enjoyed. Naturally, I had expectations. Expectations that were only made bigger because of three things: ‘bookstore’, older guy, a dreaded homecoming. These were things familiar to me, and so I was a little anxious to see how the story was going to go down.
When Anna ran away to the big city, she was happy. Sure, she brewed cheap coffee, scrubbed frat toilets, and stood in the middle of a basketball court with a plastic bird over her head just to get by, but she was happy. Then Michael shows up at her university on the last day of college and asks her to come home, and she’s drawn to him all over again.
Never mind that he’s eight years older than she is. Never mind that he’s smiling and perfect and the whole reason why she left home in the first place. Never mind that he accidentally almost got her killed in their town’s old bookshop when she was twelve.
All Anna knows is that Michael is the same man who revived her, the same man who broke her heart growing up, the same man she’s hungered for all her life.
Now, she’s coming home to face her silent mother, her passive sister, and a devastating truth about her father. She’s coming home to face her demons, and—after one forbidden night—ignite a fragile passion with the older boy who never loved her in return.
But Michael has his own demons too. And when 22-year-old Anna comes home to return to the life she left behind, she learns that there are just some things you can’t run away from, and that home will never be the same again. Get a copy: Amazon, via the author (print) / Read reviews: Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
From the blurb alone, any reader can tell there’s a lot to unpack, and that there’s a certain level of intensity that’s coming along with it. They will not be wrong. The author wastes no time and opens with Anna and Michael’s heart-thumping reunion right on the first page of the first chapter, making this book an automatic page turner. Like seeing a coveted edition in a book sale, it made me race through the chapters, which all seemed intentionally short for the very purpose of keeping the momentum and keeping me glued to the story. It’s an effective approach, especially with the number of flashbacks in between.
But the real pull lies in the prose. Reading was like listening to a song, in the sense that the author knows when to come on softly, build power or turn something up into a full-on hair-raising piece harmonized by a hundred instruments. The simplest moment becomes either a shattering or a victorious one because of how the sentences are strung together, causing me, the reader, an emotional roller coaster and half a night of staring blankly up the ceiling. (Here is a thread to show you samples.)
What more is that every little thing that’s uttered felt thought out, plus every conflict—Anna’s running away, her broken family, Michael’s obvious interest in her, the bookstore folding up, her graduation, among others—ironed out by the end, leaving a satisfying conclusion for the characters involved.
There may be a couple of things that might not sit well with other readers. For one, it could be a little tricky (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) to accept that Anna ran away because she found out Michael was going to get married to somebody else. However, of course, that comes with being young and in love. *sighs*
Speaking of marriage, there is a major twist on Michael lying about his wife, Elizabeth, but on my end, I understood it was necessary to the story, and that it was consistent with the character. If knowing this makes anyone uncomfortable or hesitant, allow me to spoil that he does make up for it—grand gesture bordering on epic and all that. Although, I also think that an epilogue could have addressed this better, in which Michael continues to prove his worth and that he and Anna are very, very happy together.
The Bookshop Back Home by Catherine Dellosa is a skillfully written story of rekindled love that also pays tribute to the magic of books. Consider reserving a place for it in your shelves. ☁