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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review: Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

Publication Date: August 21st 2009 by Walker & Company

SYNOPSIS: From the author of Saving Juliet comes a romantic comedy that is good to the last drop. When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be . .

REVIEW: Much like a steaming hot cup of your favorite java, Coffeehouse Angel is a comforting, light hearted novel perfect for sitting back and savoring the moment with. One early morning, Katrina, a young teenager, looks out the window of her grandmother's coffeehouse and sees a homeless man sleeping by the dumpster. Katrina selflessly takes pity on him and brings him a cup of coffee along with something to eat. Unbeknownst to her, the man is not homeless. He is really a handsome messenger angel named Malcolm who is merely resting in between assignments. Katrina's selfless good deed earns her the right to her heart’s most intense desire. Sounds like a dream right? But if you only had one wish, would you really know what you wanted most to use it on?

Although a bit meek at times, Katrina’s caring, sweet nature did make her very lovable. I also thought her character was highly relatable when it came to comparing herself with her overachieving classmates and best friends. At one time or another most girls can probably relate to the problems Katrina had. There is so much pressure on teens to know “what you want to do” with the rest of your life and I thought Selfors did a great job delving into those feelings and issues. This is a great passage from the book that provides quite a bit of insight into the pressures kids face today -

"Our main focus as teenagers, according to just about everyone, is to jam-pack our lives with activities so that we can get into an Ivy League college and therefore succeed in life. Because that's the way it works. Weak application = crappy college. Crappy college = crappy job. Crappy job = crappy life. In other words, poverty, alcoholism, obesity, and depression. It's enough stress to make your hair fall out."
The idea of a celestial or supernatural creature who comes along and grants wishes is one I have read about in other stories and folk tales. But Suzanne Selfors has definitely made Coffeehouse Angel her own with the picturesque, Scandinavian town of Nordby, a quirky cast of lovable characters and a heart warming, heavenly infused budding romance between a messenger angel and a kind hearted teenager. The cultural aspects of the town of Nordby really gave Coffeehouse Angel a little something extra special too. I enjoyed the fairy tale inspired locale with cuckoo clocks and painted murals on the buildings, instead of your average American city. I also loved reading about Christmas traditions like the peanut butter filled pine cones and the Solstice Festival. One thing I couldn't quite wrap my palette around were the eggs in the coffee and the sardine sandwiches though!

Although the tone of the story is light hearted, there are deeper lessons of forgiveness and self identity in Coffeehouse Angel. One of the underlying themes seemed to be that if you were always wishing for something better, what kind of life is that? Katrina knows her grandmother’s business is in danger of going under at any minute. Does she want to use her one wish to save the coffeehouse? I liked Katrina’s growth process and how in the end, she didn’t wait for a wish to come around and magically make things happen for her. For me, that was the best part of the novel.

Coffeehouse Angel is the perfect book to curl up alongside with on a rainy dreary day. It will infuse your heart with warmth and make you smile. So go on and take a sip of this feel good, coming of age romance. You won’t be disappointed.

Born in Munich, Germany in 1963, Suzanne attended Bennington College and graduated with honors from Occidental College in Documentary Film Production. She received an MA in Communications from the University of Washington. She lives with her husband on an island in Washington state where they are raising two children, a dog, a cat, and a flock of messy chickens. To learn more about Suzanne, visit her at her Official Website.


brizmus said...

Meek, caring, and lovable - Katrina sounds cool. Like the kind of teenager I wanted to know when I was a teenager.
I think I totally want to live in the town where this story was set. I wish it existed.
thanks for a great review!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great review. As usual. :)

Becky said...

I've read a couple of reviews of this and I think it sounds so adorable. I will definitely be giving this one a try and perhaps the fairytale setting would make it the perfect Christmas read.
Loved your review :-)

StephTheBookworm said...

This books sounds really cute!

Nikki @ Bookizzle said...

Your review makes me want to read this even more!

Jess said...

I tried to read Saving Juliet, but couldn't get into it. I'm gonna give this book a shot but I'm a little nervous D: