Aug 7, 2011

Review: Coffee at Little Angels

Nadine Rose Larter
  • Ebook: 188 pages
  • Language: English
  • Reading level: Adult
  • Publisher: The Katalina Playroom (ebook May 2011, August 2011 for the print copy) 
  • Source: review copy from the author 
  • My rating: 5/5 

  • Summary: Phillip, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Caleb, Maxine, Grant, Melanie and Josh grew up  in a small town where they spent their high school years together as an inseparable clique. But high school has ended, and they are all living their own “grown up” lives, each under the impression that their group has basically come to an end. When Phillip dies in a hit and run accident, Kaitlyn summons the others to all come back home, forcing a reunion that no one is particularly interested in partaking in.
Coffee at Little Angels follows how each character deals with the death of a childhood friend while at the same time dealing with their own ignored demons after years of separation. Events unfold as the group tries to rekindle the friendship they once shared to honour the memory of a friend they will never see again.

I so loved this novel. 

I loved the beautiful simplicity of the prose. There's no fidgeting but sheer honesty and sincerity in the narrative, and a down-to-earth, realistic tone while talking about the small things that make our lives and the things that we all think about when faced with the death of someone close. 
Nadine perfectly captured the image of a small town life. There's no name to the town on purpose and it could be just any small town in the world, including mine, a town stuck in time, bordering on racism and homophobia. 
"(...)These towns all carry the same overtone of desperation and the overwhelming sense of lost dreams and broken people and barely-lived lives. They all look the same. They all feel the same and smell the same. And they all leave you with the feeling that this is where God would come to die." p7
There is a plentiful of characters, but Nadine shifts the POV effortlessly. Each one of the eight main characters has a distinct personality and a crystal-clear, unique voice. I loved the characters and found bits of myself in each one of them. The beginning and the ending of the story are told from Phillip's perspective. Here is another quote, my favorite from the book, where Phillip talks about his love for Sarah.
"Loving Sarah was like reading a particularly good book. That pressing and overwhelming need to just devour it as fast as possible is matched only by the need to savour it slowly and completely, lest it all come to an end too soon. The all-consuming emotions are so many and varied that it is almost impossible to pick out one for a few minutes attention. They mainly stay jumbled and unattended, and for the most part not entirely understood or satisfied. But then, maybe it is in the understanding of our love for someone that the love itself disappears altogether. If so, then I don't want to understand, and I remain content to simply experience her. Somehow, the more I learn about Sarah, the better I understand myself.
And the more I fall in love." p74

Coffee at Little Angels is not just the kind of reunion where everyone is praising the deceased (there is some of it later), rather a revisiting of an old life, and burying own demons from the past. Shifting through perspectives, we are given a background for the characters, their present and past relationships, dreams and hopes. 
The pacing is great, it doesn't rely on the outer action, even the inner observations and dialogues have a great tempo that make this novel a fast and easy read without a dull moment. It's equal parts sad and funny, nostalgic and entertaining. This novel has so much spirit that it's impossible to put it down, and is bound to stay with you after you read the final line.

Many thanks to Nadine for a review copy of this beautiful book!

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