In this novel, a young woman, her mother, and a little girl get a second chance at life in a fitting venue: a secondhand shop.
After divorcing her cheating husband, Liza Murphy leaves Minneapolis and returns in defeat to her hometown of Watertown, South Dakota. There, her hippie mother, Minnie, is living in the makeshift apartment above her business, Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe. The shop was a source of embarrassment to Liza as a kid, and she’s not happy to be moving back in. But the customers and the assortment of knickknacks they find are charming. Her mother is especially taken with Raymond Standing Rock, a member of the Dakota Sioux tribe, who comes by to sell her handmade jewelry. While Liza saves up for her own place, she reunites with friends, takes up painting, and explores lukewarm feelings for several men, including her kind boss, Dr. Kent Swenson; her sophisticated art instructor, Beau Bartlett; and even her high school crush, Jim Bailey—though he’s married to her friend Julie. Meanwhile, her ex-husband, Taylor, makes a halfhearted effort to win her back. But Liza ultimately gives her heart to a little girl she calls Sweetie. One day at the store, a teenager leaves the child there and doesn’t return. Liza takes Sweetie in, and while she waits for the chance to adopt her, the protagonist’s anguish at the thought of losing her to child protective services is truly heartbreaking. And this effective plot development deepens her complex relationship with her mother. When Minnie goes on vacation, leaving her daughter to deal with a major life event on her own, Liza appreciates her mother more. Minnie is full of platitudes, which she passes down to her daughter like the well-worn antiques in her shop. “Where you stumble, there lies your treasure,” she says. By the end of Stein’s (Dry Run, Oklahoma, 2017, etc.) engaging story, the protagonist understands just what Minnie means. Liza reimagines her future as if she is sifting through an assortment of treasures to find the perfect gift, and the end of her search is as heartwarming as it is rewarding.
A moving family tale with rich characters.