Hello Kittens! If you need a break from the awfulness of the world right now, I’ve found a recommendation for you. This book isn’t deep or dark. It doesn’t have violence or harsh language. It’s just a story of regular people going about regular lives. They have hardships and hope. They help each other but also cause each other pain. If you just need a book to float your way through the week, then I think this will be a good option. I hope it brings you a measure of comfort if that’s what you’re looking for right now. It also might make you crave a warm beverage (made at home or purchased via safe methods from a local coffee shop). Enjoy!
Title: Of Literature and Lattes
Author: Katherine Reay
Author website: https://katherinereay.com/
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publish date: May 12, 2020
More Info: Goodreads
Picking up in the same town from one of her previous novels (The Printed Letter Bookshop), Reay returns readers to Winsome, Illinois. You do not need to read the first book in this series to enjoy Of Literature and Lattes, but there are allusions to story lines that I assume were introduced in more depth in the first book. In this book we are following two parallel story lines that eventually merge.
First we meet Alyssa, who is returning home to Winsome nearly three years after she left to go work for a Silicon Valley start-up. In the years since, that start-up has been closed down by the FBI for fraud and others illegal acts. Alyssa is technically still under investigation but has been allowed to move back home, which is good because her association with that start-up has made her persona non grata in her industry. With her bank account dwindling, she hopes that returning home will give her a few months to get back on her feet. Home is exactly the solace she needs right now, as long as she can avoid run-ins with her mother. They had a falling out that drove her away three years ago and Alyssa is not ready to make amends yet.
Then we meet Jeremy, who has recently moved to Winsome from Seattle to purchase and renovate a local coffee house. Turning the Daily Brew into the new and refreshed Andante (a musical term that means ‘a walking pace’) has been easier and more difficult than Jeremy could ever have imagined. Owning a place like this has always been his dream, but the locals aren’t warming up to the changes he has made as quickly as he had hoped. Add to that the troubles that he is having with his friend and employee, Ryan, and there’s a lot on his plate. One thing that is going right though, is the fact that this move has allowed him to be much closer to his daughter, Becca.
Jeremy and Alyssa have kind of a rough first meeting. Alyssa, who shows herself to be quick with her words, criticizes Andante and Jeremy isn’t in a receptive mood to hear that kind of criticism. This isn’t an enemies-to-lovers story by any means though. The two make up pretty quickly and they become good friends before the sparks start showing up. Their relationship is very chaste and respectful and their story together really pales in comparison to their separate stories of personal growth.
Both of their plans to move back to Winsome and have easier lives go awry. Their friendships and other relationships are tested, but they will both discover strength and maturity that they didn’t know they had. They help each other to get through these times and they both come out of it for the better. Along with the other townspeople, their stories deal with found families, guilt, redemption, and forgiveness. There’s something here for almost every type of reader. The story isn’t going to keep you on the edge of your seat, but it’s so sweet that you’ll glide right along reading it without realizing that an hour has gone by.
Why I liked it:
The characters had complex backstories and had lived in big cities, but they cherished the small town life rather than bringing it down. So many stories like this have characters that treat small towns as “less-than” and then have the characters awaken to the town’s charms. I appreciated that we didn’t have to deal with that trope with this story.
I also liked the fact that the characters are dealing with raw emotional issues but that the author doesn’t draw the reader too deeply into those. Some of the scenes really read more like therapy sessions but the reader doesn’t get drawn in as the therapist or the patient. I am grateful, especially right now, for a read that does not insist on emotionally destroying me.
I was also really nervous about the religious aspects of this book. When I first checked it out, I didn’t know much about it, but when I scrolled down through the description it listed it as a “Christian Romance.” I would argue that it is not overwhelmingly Christian nor is it super heavy on the romance. Both elements are there, but they are presented in a non-threatening manner that I think would welcome many different types of readers.
I also appreciate that the title was explained in the final chapters. I really like it when titles tie in to the story.
What I would like to change:
In the digital edition that I was reading there was no transition from one character to the next. We would be following one character, getting their inner thoughts and dialogue and then they would come into contact with another person and we would switch to that person’s inner thoughts and dialogue without any visible transition. That was confusing for me as a reader to adjust to. I don’t know if it is that way in the printed version (perhaps there’s extra spacing or something that makes it more clear).
Disclaimer: No disclaimer needed. I borrowed this title using Hoopla from my library.
My library rating: This was a no-brainer. I won’t automatically give Christian Fiction a 5 glasses rating just for being Christian Fiction. In the past, I’ve found plenty of objectionable material in those types of books. This one earned it’s rating because of it’s treatment of relationships and it’s light-Christian messages. It’s a fluffy read that still offers value for lots of readers.
5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone. There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners. This kind of book is a Librarian’s dream. As much as we love good literature, suggesting a book for someone can be nerve-wracking work that can backfire BIG TIME.
My personal preference rating: I gave this title 3 stars. I liked it. It’s outside of what I normally read, but I appreciated the fact that it was an incredibly pleasant, uncomplicated read. I tend to read more dramatic, dark stories, but even I need a break from those every now and again.