I was recently asked to write a review for a Publishing Tour for author Joanne DeMaio and her book, Whole Latte Life. It was touted as “Fresh brewed women’s fiction, to share with mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends . . .” and when it arrived, the first thing that hit me was the deliciously rendered cover.
From the jacket description:
Would you leave everything behind to know who you are?
Sara Beth Riley never dreamt she'd walk straight out of her life. Actually she'd never dreamt a lot of things that had happened this year ... From being kidnapped by her own best friend, to throwing her wedding rings into the Hudson River, to calling an old love in France, to getting inked with said best friend, painting the passionate constellation of these choices into permanence. But mostly, she could never have dreamt what started it all. How could it be that her mother's unexpected death, and the grief which lingered painfully long, turned her into the woman she was finally meant to become?
Sara Beth's escape begins a summer of change - of herself, of marriage, of the lives of those around her. In a story that moves from Manhattan to the sea to a quaint New England town, Whole Latte Life looks at friends we never forget, at decisions we linger with, at our attempts to live the lives we love.
Sara Beth and Rachel have been best friends since childhood, and the book opens with the two of them celebrating their 40th birthdays in New York City. They’d been planning the getaway for months and have a beautiful hotel room reserved and an itinerary packed with fun and laughter when suddenly, one of them disappears. It happens at a perfectly charming restaurant, when a maitre d’ hands Rachel a note. Her best friend, Sara Beth, had left the table to use the bathroom and Rachel had just begun to worry. How could someone do that to their best friend, I wondered?
Sara Beth, a mother of three, is bogged down with a marriage that has lost its lustre, an unplanned child, the dream of an antique business that’s been put on the back burner, but what she’s struggling with most of all is the recent death of her mother.
I will admit that I remained angry with Sara Beth for what she put her best friend through, but if she hadn’t “walked away from her life” at that particular point in time, Rachel would have never met Michael, the NYPD mounted policeman who befriends her and who is struggling with his own demons. Michael eventually becomes a major character in Rachel’s life. Rachel has also suffered a great loss, as the birthday weekend also marks the two year anniversary of her husband’s death.
Sara Beth is only gone for a few days, but her actions create a rift between the two women that threatens to destroy their friendship. It’s not until some time later, after they’ve gone their separate ways, and Rachel ends up ‘kidnapping’ Sara Beth, taking her to the cottage that Michael had rented for the summer, that they begin to mend their fractured friendship.
Sara Beth turns and studies her friend’s face. What she sees in its space, light and color are answers to questions she never voiced: How long did Rachel wait in the restaurant that day? A long, panicked time. And did she sleep those nights, worrying? She worried a hell of a lot more than slept. And did Rachel look for her in the city? She looked in every special place their friendship has ever taken them, hoping hoping hoping Sara would return to her in some way, even by revisiting a memory. All those answers are there, human expression in the architecture of her eyes.
The author deftly weaves a novel about love and friendship, loss and hope, loyalty and betrayal, and “crystal days that shine forever”.
Joanne DeMaio is an author of contemporary women's fiction, blending family, coffee and friendship on the page. In addition to her novel Whole Latte Life, her music essays have appeared in literary journals. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut, where the coffee is always brewing, either in her country kitchen, or a favorite coffee shop, and the talk is ever flowing over a fresh cup of java. For more information, visit her website at www.joannedemaio.com.
To read more about the book, visit WholeLatteLife.com. And check out the author’s ‘webisodes’, something I thought were very cool ~
Whole Latte Life is available in paperback and Kindle e-book.To purchase, visit Amazon.com. To read reviews from this Publishing Tour, please visit: Purple Gallinule, Beautiful Mustang, and Savvy Verse & Wit.