“This Bookstore Raised Us”

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 17, 2015

A couple of days ago, I received a phone call from a young woman asking us to set aside the new Sarah Dessen novel, Saint Anything. I told her we’d hold it behind the counter for her and asked for her last name. She said hesitantly, “I don’t know if you’ll remember me, but this is Ivy Madden.”

“Ivy!!” Of course I remembered Ivy. She and her sister, Paige, used to come to the bookstore every summer for years — their family had a camp on the nearby lake  —from the time they were around 8 and 9 through their teen years. They even worked for us one summer.
They were smart, funny kids, so well-read it became almost a game to keep ahead of them with the new releases. They always brought light and laughter and tales of hilarious mishap through the bookstore door with them. Then family divisions and house moves slowed the annual visits, and a few years started going by between Vermont trips.
Of COURSE we remember Ivy and Paige, now 25 and 26. They’re like long-lost second cousins once-removed you only get to see at family reunions, but always joyfully reconnect with.
Yesterday, they tumbled into the store with three friends, all grown up. Huge hugs, lots of catching up, lots of me grilling Paige’s new boyfriend so that I could officially approve. Fortunately, they were all good sports.
“This store raised us,” Ivy said, looking around, and her eyes misted over. It was such a lovely compliment there was really no response good enough, so I just beamed at her.
We talked about her new job — she is the personal assistant to a Los Angeles comedian/actor — and Paige is now an editorial assistant at one of my favorite literary publishing houses in NYC, a house with a firm foot in the old ways of editing and bringing along fine writers. Both jobs seem perfectly suited to them, and they carried happiness. There’s something solidly affirming in seeing young people find their way.
Ivy and Paige waxed nostalgic about their years at the Flying Pig, back in Charlotte and now in Shelburne. They remembered the Harry Potter parties, the anticipation of each new Sarah Dessen novel (“somehow, she stays the one I’ve never outgrown,” Ivy said), and the anchoring feeling of being able to return to a beloved family vacation home and find old friends and favorite little stores still there. They were clearly so touched to be back.
I told them that, on the night of the last Harry Potter party, a 19-year-old customer who had been 10 when the first book came out (and who had been to every midnight release party) helped out at the Book 7 bash. At the end of that mad, outrageously fun crush, he said wistfully, “This marks the end of my childhood.”
Ivy said again, “This bookstore RAISED us.”
And that, my friends, is the honor of the work we do — to get to be in the lives of amazing people, young and old, who connect to the world in part through the wonder of books and the magic of a place to gather, discover, and share them.
(Note: Ivy and Paige’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

2 thoughts on ““This Bookstore Raised Us”

  1. Kerri

    It was lovely to visit your bookstore recently! And what a great shelf talker today. I feel the same way. Let us know when/if you come down to kidsandprose.


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