Miranda Brooks is an only child, close to her mother and father and very fond of her uncle Billy. The story starts: “THE LAST TIME I SAW MY UNCLE, HE BOUGHT ME A DOG. A GOLDEN retriever puppy with sad eyes and a heart-shaped nose. I didn’t have her long enough to give her a name. One moment she was running around my living room with the promise of many adventures together and the next she was gone. It was the same way with Uncle Billy. One moment he was waving goodbye as he reversed out of my driveway. Then I never saw him again”
Billy had an ugly fight with Miranda’s mother, and disappeared on her 12th birthday. Up to that time going to his bookstore, Prospero Books, was something she loved to do, and Billy would let her pick out any book she wanted and often arrange scavenger hunts for her using book titles as clues.
Miranda is living on the east coast, teaching middle school, and in a relationship. It has been 16 years since she has seen Billy when she receives unexpected news that he has died and left her Prospero Books, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. She returns for funeral and then decides to stay for the summer to try to decide what to do with the bookstore and to find the answers to some questions. She learns that Billy has set up one final scavenger hunt for her that she hopes will provide answers to why he left when she was 12 years old.
The clues left for her are hidden in classics like Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and Bridge to Terabithia. Some are left in envelopes given to past friends. The clues clearly lead to her unanswered questions and to many of the people in Billy’s past.
The author leaves us glad that we found Prospero Books and wanting to know the employees of the store, and the other characters more. Miranda finds some surprising answers to the past and for the future.