Book Twirps's Reviews > The Apothecary

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
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Aug 07, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

With the end of World War II came the Cold War and the beginning of the Nuclear Arms Race. In 1952, fourteen-year-old Janie Scott lives in Los Angeles with her parents who are television writers. When Janie is followed home one day by government agents, her parents swiftly pack up and move the family to London. The government suspects her parents may be communists, and this move will help protect them.

Janie hates everything about her new city. London is still recovering after WWII and isn’t at all what Janie is used to. The worst part is that the families new flat has no hot water or heat, so Janie and her father head down to the local Apothecary shop to pick up a few hot water bottles. Mr. Burrows, the owner, is a kind man, and Janie immediately takes to him.

The next day, during a “duck and cover” bomb drill at school, Janie meets a defiant boy named Benjamin. He doesn’t see the point in these drills, and refuses to get under the tables like all the other boys and girls. This boy turns out to be Mr. Burrows son, and he and Janie become fast friends. When his father is kidnapped, Benjamin is left in control of an old book titled The Pharmacopoeia, which is filled with magical potions, handed down for centuries by the Burrows family. It’s up to Janie and Benjamin to protect the book so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands as they search for his missing father.

The Apothecary is a fun, exciting and often-funny adventure that I very much enjoyed. The story is engaging and exciting, and the characters are all realistic and a lot of fun. All qualities that will definitely appeal to middle-graders and young adults alike. It’s fun to see a book set in this time period for younger readers since many of them probably have no clue what the Cold War even is. This book is out in October, and I highly recommend putting it on your child’s (or your) reading list.

(I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program)
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