Located in a small Massachusetts college town, the “Serve you Right Café” has a hard-working staff of two. A full-time owner/manager, a full-time baker, and one part-time server.
The owner/manager, Eden Rose, is a recovering alcoholic. A woman with a big heart, an artistic flair, and a positive outlook. She smiles often. She inspires confidences.
“The urge to confide in her, which few resisted, probably had something to do with her eyes. People tended to find themselves there. Eden’s eyes were a clear brown that made drunks think of smooth whiskey and nature lovers remember woodland pools. Southerners looked into her eyes and tasted the memory of sweet tea, and a homeless man saw the darkness of a place to sleep”.
Emet, is a parolee recently released from prison. He is a talented and highly skilled baker who views his parole status as a gift. He NEVER wants to return to prison, and he has an admirable work ethic. In his early thirties, he has been in jail for almost ten years. He learned how to cook in prison. He calls cooking “reliable magic”.
When Emet meets a woman named Mercedes, he cannot believe his luck when she agrees to go out with him. Where she is a doctor of physiotherapy; he only has a high school diploma and a prison record.
The tables are not as uneven as they seem however, because Mercedes (Mercey) comes from a severely dysfunctional family. Her baggage would break the backs of most people. Emet isn’t ‘most people’ though.
“Some plants grow best in poor soil”
Mercy’s brother is a low-life druggie who has on occasion resorted to petty crime to support his habits. When he learns of Emet, and Emet’s past, he does his level best to put Emet back in prison and away from his sister, who, up until now has helped to support him.
Mercey has a NEADS service dog named Serena. When her brother tries to harm Serena, Mercy reports him to the authorities. That’s when things turn bad. Bad for Mercey, and by connection, bad for Emet.
This lovely little book is a treatise on human nature. The good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of it. It is a story told with deep understanding, humor, and empathy. The prose at times flows almost like poetry. There is no part of this book that I didn’t love. All the characters are so well rendered, that I find myself missing them already…
It is my belief that this book will appeal to: people who like people, people who don’t like people, people with ‘baggage’, people who love people who have ‘baggage’, dog lovers, bakers, and everyone who ever wanted or needed a second chance. Highly recommended!
I received a digital copy of this novel from Linden Tree Press via Edelweiss.
Tilia Klebenov Jacobs lives near Boston, Mass.
Tilia has taught middle school, high school, and college. She has also won numerous awards for her fiction and nonfiction writing. She is a judge in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and she teaches writing in two prisons in Massachusetts.
Her debut novel, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, won the Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Thriller.