Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
I love reading about bookstores.
The characters, the environment, the books they mention, the reading habits and practices of regulars within each quirky little indie store becomes an amalgam of all the best things we love about bookstores wherever we travel to.
I was hoping this one would check all those boxes for me, but it really didn't.
Even though the cover and the title imply that the bookstore is key to the story, it actually was not. This was disappointing. It was a drama/mystery story and the main character, Lydia, works in a bookstore called Bright Ideas. It begins with a death and the mystery that surrounds this character, the hidden identities of Lydia and people she cares for in her secretive life, and the awareness that there is so much more to people than we assume at first glance.
It is the epitome of "don't judge a book by its cover".
The characters referred to as "Book Frogs", misfits and regulars at the bookstore, should be more colourful and dynamic as supporting characters, but unfortunately Sullivan leaves them on the shelf and prefers to shine the light on a curious network of relationships in Lydia's life that are removed from the bookstore setting. It almost reads like a snippet of a few different storylines that have all become mashed up in one story. A couple of the characters do not seem to have any relevant place in the arc of the story, and there are more than one unsatisfying element to the pace of the story that I felt was neglected by the editor or the expectations of how this book should be categorized.
That being said, I was determined to find out the answers to the questions I had been asking throughout the novel, and they were answered satisfactorily by the end. I was compelled to keep reading, even though I was not overly fond of Lydia or sympathetic to her past, interestingly enough. She seemed emotionless and superficial, and even though she had gone through a trauma that was described in memorable detail, she seemed woefully unaffected. The ex-Social Worker in me knew that she would have to deal with her trauma and the relationships impacted by it but this was never mentioned, so she appeared unreliable and unbelievable to me.
I'm glad I read it. I have been reminded that you cannot anticipate what is between the pages of a book based in its cover, or its title.