Jamie Zerndt has crafted a solid, domestic noir saga that deals with a family who experienced loss and whose grief touches everyone in the small, intertwined town. The Roadrunner Café is dark, at times overwhelming but, ultimately, a story of hope for us all.
Carson Long’s father has committed suicide. The grief over his loss and the unanswered questions permeate their home which Carson describes as a “two-story coffin.” His mother, Judith, is both sad and bitter. His sister, Georgie, is depressed and angry often acting out in ways that teens do when they cannot get a handle on their intense emotions. Their neighbors and former customers are affected by their own sense of loss and grief. And then there are the trees planted outside the café to represent each member of the family. They become symbolic of this family’s life, their choices and ultimately their future.
There were times that I felt as though I was chasing a roadrunner as the book weaved and dodged from one member of the large ensemble cast. We are introduced to the family first, the neighbors and then members of the community. To say that I was incredulous that Zerndt could tie all of these characters together in any logical way is an understatement. I finally let go of my expectations for the characters as well my insatiable need to know what their role would be and simply flowed with each ones unique story. And yes, they all do fit together in the end.
Parts of the story are very depressing, others are incredibly graphic. I’m not sure that I would want a young teen to read this story but it is one that needs to be told, has an excellent message and could be read by older young adults. It is perfect for those of us who love noir writing and strong, well formed characters.
This book is not going to be for everyone; it is not a fast paced book but rather a story of love, compassion, forgiveness and, simply, a people’s need to grieve. I highly recommend The Roadrunner Café but with a warning to take the book slowly, get to know the characters and allow them to grow as you read along. You will be glad that you did.
Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways and Amazon Kindle for my copy of this book.