The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson

What does all the magic in the world matter if it can't save the ones you love? For self-proclaimed bookstore lovers and fans of Pages & Co. comes an exploration of the way war can shape a family, in the tradition of Pax and Wolf Hollow.

It's 1944 Sutton, NY, and Poppy's family owns and runs, Rhyme and Reason, a magical bookshop that caters to people from all different places and time periods. Though her family's world is ravaged by World War II, their customers hail from their past and their future, infusing the shop with a delightful mix of ideas and experiences. The shop runs on a set of rules handed down from one generation of bookseller to the next, with their cardinal rule their most strict: shopkeepers must never use the magic for themselves.

But then Poppy's brother's best friend is killed in the war and her brother wants to use the magic to save him. Young Poppy is caught between her love for her brother and loyalty to her family, all the while knowing that her brother's actions could have devastating consequences that reach far beyond the bookshop, feeding an insidious, growing darkness.

Escape to the magical bookshop of Rhyme and Reason where readers from all walks of life and time periods gather to enjoy a safe haven where their love of reading brings them all together. It's 1944 and Poppy's whole life is in the bookshop. The regular customers are like a second family who understand her unlike her classmates who see her love of magic as laughable. But Rhyme and Reason is magical. It has its own emotions where if someone insults the store it starts to become gloomy and the bookstore starts to tremble. Everything brightens up and becomes even more fantastical when it receives a compliment. It's currently WWII and Poppy's brother Al is devastated by the recent loss of his best friend. As he becomes obsessed with trying to go back in time using the bookshop's magic (a strictly forbidden rule) and stop his friend from enlisting it becomes increasingly clear that something dark is brewing... It is up to Poppy to save the shop and the magic before it's too late.

I couldn't have prepared myself for the emotional rollercoaster that is The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams and the shocking twist that was revealed. I loved Poppy's resolve to save Rhyme and Reason and her brother from himself. The bookshop setting was a critical part of the storytelling and it felt so real. It had this unbelievable whimsy to it. I loved the little magic of the blue wildflowers popping up, the lights flickering, the vines saying hello, and the quotes being changed every day (I now want to write a list of them down and read the books they come from). I wish that Rhyme and Reason would appear to me right now because I could use some magic in my everyday life. 

There is a war going on, Al is becoming a different person, the parents are away because one became ill and is in the hospital... so many things are on top of Poppy's shoulders that I still wonder how she kept her head above water. There were so many elements in the plot that made this book so captivating to read. It was the mix of magic, time travel, historical setting, and most of all the emotion that pulled me in and didn't want to let me go. Time travel freaks me out. Less so now that I am older but I was still like oh no when I realized that Al wanted to go back in time to stop his friend from enlisting. You don't mess with the past! Everyone knows that. I did love that all the customers came from different time periods. Sometimes the store had access to books that still hadn't been written! I don't read historical fiction so I didn't know what to expect but this was such an emotional middle grade. There is a lot of grief that the characters face that is symbolized as the darkness grows. There are moments when all seems hopeless. The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams was a wonderfully gripping middle grade. It has made me want to pick up more historical fiction which isn't a genre I dive into very often at all. 

One last note, I wish certain things would have turned out differently but I can understand them from the point of keeping everything in balance. Something else that bothered me was that the mom wasn't checking in more frequently and basically left her children alone to run the shop. It somewhat made sense with her husband sick and living in her era to leave her eighteen-year-old son in charge of the bookshop but still...

I would recommend this to any person who loves the magic of books, historical settings, and emotional stories. 


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