The Roadrunner Cafe

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.

51mNHaDZF7L._SY346_

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.

Sadie

Oh Sadie, Sadie, Sadie…. how you stole my heart. I give Sadie FIVE stars and FIVE moons too!

51q4dmgrQUL._SY346_

Sadie is a young girl set on revenge against the man she is certain has murdered her sister. Her life has been hard, the daughter of an alcoholic mother and non-existent father, Sadie has raised herself and her sister with the help of an older, loving neighbor. After her mother’s disappearance from their lives, Sadie continues to take care of her sister alone until the fateful night that her sister is savagely murdered. Sadie knows who did it despite the fact that the police have done nothing and followed no leads. Sadie disappears into the night looking for the killer, leaving no clues behind and telling no one her destination.

This is where the story begins: Sadie is missing and the loving neighbor wants to know where she is, what has happened to her. She elicits the help of a very skeptical podcast reporter who has done some podcasts about interesting people in rural areas. The author uses both first hand accounts from Sadie and the podcast episodes. While I’m beginning to think that the use of blogs and podcasts in literature are becoming a crutch and a little too overused, in this particular instance it works very well. The author uses the reporter to ask a question and then, seamlessly, flows into the character’s response on the podcast. There were times that I could easily imagine how this would have sounded and what it would have looked like “on air.” Rather than being a crutch, it became an enhancement to the story. The book also is specially geared toward “young adults” and I think this type of writing works for them.

With that in mind – the “young adult” aspect of this book – I think this is the first time I’ve read something within this genre in which I truly felt that the story had merit. When I was a young adult or younger, we were offered amazing stories that told the grittier, darker side of being a teen. S E Hinton’s series, The Outsiders, or the horrific tale, Go Ask Alice,” were required reading for teens and young adults. Somewhere along the way, Harry Potter became the norm, for adults and kids alike, and I think that books with substance took a back seat. Sadie, however, is a real coming of age story about rural America, alcohol and drugs, runaways and the horror that far too many young people and young adults must deal with as a regular part of their existence. There is no sugar-coating here, no happy endings for everyone: this is life and it is told expertly. Sadie is a book that I will read again and again and recommend to every reader I know. It is a must read for teens and young adults. It is a story for this generation in today’s society, a story that will stand the test of time.

A million thanks to #CourtneySummers for writing such an astounding book; to #Netgalley and #StMartinsPress for my advanced copy.

 

Then She Was Gone – TBR Thursdays

TBR Thursdays

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a taut, well written domestic noir tale.

Then-She-Was-Gone

It’s Thursday and time to clear off another book from my “To Be Read” list. I’ve been anticipating this one, literally, since I finished her last book. Lisa Jewell is quickly becoming one of my favorite “go-to” authors for domestic noir.

In typical Jewell fashion, the author grabbed my attention from the first page and did not let go until I was finished. That is not to say that this a “thriller” or filled with plot twisting “gotcha” moments; that simply isn’t Jewell’s style. Rather, this is a perfectly told story of domestic noir.

A family is torn apart by the disappearance of their daughter. No one in the family is unscathed by the loss and subsequent agony that the mother has faced. We are introduced to each member of the family, some more briefly than others, and their characters are well developed throughout the saga. However, the attention primarily is on the mother who never gives up searching for her daughter. And then…… she meets a man whose own daughter is the very image of the one who was taken. How can this be and how is it possible to for them to share so many coincidental acquaintances?

Without adding any spoilers, the plot is well thought out and expertly told. There are times while reading that I laughed out loud at some of their conversations. The characters are witting, biting and very true to life. I adore Lisa Jewell for her ability to make even the worst antagonists life-like and who never fit into the typical “bad guy” mold.

The She Was Gone is a very quick, enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to those who like noir fiction and, especially, to all Jewell fans. If you’ve read this, I would love to read your thoughts about it.

Now, what’s on your TBR list?