…if Bennett’s Greysworth were to go, then we’d have to get a train to the nearest bookshop. And I wouldn’t get a staff discount or first dibs on any of those books. I wouldn’t be able to sit behind the counter in those bookshops, pretending to enjoy coffee, and dipping into a book that makes me look sophisticated and intellectual.
(Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles. PP. 21 – 22.)
Bennett’s bookshop has been Paige’s refuge for as long as she can remember. It gave her a place to escape the dull prospects of her hometown, it introduced her to other worlds and it gave her a Saturday job. Now the bookshop is due to close. Soon there will be nothing left on the high-street except cheap shoes and buskers.
Paige and her friend Holly vow to fight. They start an online petition to save the bookshop. Meanwhile, Paige is dealing with a major crush on art-school student Blaine Henderson. Will his belief in anarchy make or break the protest?
A contemporary novel perfect for fans of The Exact Opposite Of OK and It Only Happens In The Movies. A witty and wise-cracking protagonist faces up to situations which highlight modern issues.
The major theme is the affect high-street closures have on a town. The story looks particularly at easy access to books – Paige’s local library cuts its hours at the same time that Bennett’s announces its closure. Cutting access to books – access for everyone, because what the middle classes often forget is not everyone has the internet – affects literacy and aspiration. Paige lives in an area of low employment. Reading can open doors. It shows people other worlds. Beyond that, reading allows us to face our own insecurities. It dares us to change our lives and to believe in ourselves.
Blaine Henderson is an interesting character. He comes in like the typical boyfriend in a YA romance – boy walks in, girl experiences palpitations and can’t stop thinking about said boy. His character develops in a way which is more interesting than typical YA boyfriends. Blaine is an artist. He believes in anarchy, in the total freedom of the individual. Without any spoilers, the big question is whether his beliefs might save Bennett’s.
A chatty, laugh-out-loud novel packed with contemporary references. It is lovely to see a YA novel which celebrates bookshops and bookish culture. With a second installment already in the works, Paige Turner (yes, really) is your new YA BFF.
Thanks to ReadersFirst and Hot Key Books for my copy of Bookshop Girl. Opinions my own.