Saturday, August 8, 2009

Coffee Shop God

Coffee Shop God is a straight-forward account of unfathomable loss where an honest soul is bared, a universal truth is wrenched from the gut of the author and the reader is left holding an unexpected gift.

Therese Bartholomew's book Coffee Shop God is an emotionally raw and surprisingly honest account of the days and weeks that follow the fatal shooting of her beloved younger brother. In this collection of essays, Bartholomew writes the things one might think, but would probably never speak aloud. "Dad knows, like all of us, that Joe is the son who should be dead.-the middle of the night phone call son." But she doesn't leave herself out of this because later as she looks around at her family, she writes, "I wonder, if they, like me, are running down a list of people they'd rather see dead. I blink slow and heavy and wonder if I'm on their lists."

The reader experiences the horrific late night phone-calls, the funeral arrangements, the police investigation, a courtroom encounter with the sister of her brother's killer and even scenes from the author's living-room; scenes we all have anxiety over but most of us have never experienced first-hand. Bartholomew speaks to us in heartache and humor revealing a refreshingly brave humanity. Her story is so redemptive, in the most unexpected way, that I had to turn right back to the first page and read it again. Then I mailed my copy to a friend and purchased another copy for myself the very next week. Heads up readers..this is at least a three-hanky read.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm Down

A painfully honest account of a mixed up childhood in which the author was not black enough for her white father (there's a lot to laugh at here), or the ghetto where they lived, and not white enough for the rich, high IQ school her mother insisted she attend. She envies her little sister who manages to be "down" enough to bum a cig off older school kids at only five years-old while the author herself can't seem to fit in anywhere. In the end, Wolff makes some friends, takes a peek into their family lives, and discovers what my beloved pastor once pointed out to his church, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but there's poop in every yard." The only minor disappointment for me was the ending lacked closure, but that's probably good news for the author; if she writes a sequel I will surely run right out to buy it. ~Shel