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Review: Life After Coffee by Virginia Franken

51aavdibhflTitle: Life After Coffee
Author: Virginia Franken
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date: September 13, 2016

Okay, now I’m gonna admit this flat out. I only snagged this book for review because of the title. I didn’t read the full description and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but I have had many mornings that I have felt that nothing existed prior to my coffee kicking in. It doesn’t happen often because I’m pretty caffeine sensitive, but when I do get that buzz, I get a lot of work done. That makes me happy. So coffee makes me happy.

I figured this book was something along those lines but really, it wasn’t AT ALL. Amy O’Hara is a coffee buyer. She travels the world looking for the best beans to make the coffee incredible. (I would be such a disappointment to Amy – I have certain coffees I like, but my palate is just not that developed for it. What, oh you came here for a book review and not a discussion of coffee? Sorry!)  She has a husband at home who literally holds down the fort and takes care of their two kids. Every time she leaves (which is pretty darned often) there’s a lot of drama. Crying. Agony. It’s pretty horrifying for any mom.

So one day on the way to the airport after a particularly difficult parting, she gets a message from her boss urging her to turn around. He doesn’t want her on that plane. It’s imperative that she return to the office IMMEDIATELY. When she gets back, she finds out that her boss has sold the company to a larger corporation. Despite that fact the Amy is the only person in the world with the key to a new coffee bean that may be resistant to rust destroying coffee crops, she is very suddenly jobless.

She has no idea what she’s going to do next other than go home. She will now get to experience the birthday party that she would have missed had she made her plane. At least her family will be happy to see her.

Except that when she gets home, she realizes how very much she doesn’t know about her family. There are total strangers in her house with their children – celebrating her child’s birthday. None of them recognizes her as she makes her way through the party, but they’re nice enough. Everyone is willing to talk and include her in their little clique. Unfortunately each group she comes across has the same topic of conversation: Amy. Not a one of them realizes that they are gossiping and complaining about Amy TO Amy.

And really, that’s the high part of a majority of the story. We learn that Amy knows nothing about being a parent. She doesn’t know her husband or her kids. Her career has killed her family life and honestly, since she can’t remember the last time she showered, she’s not sure she wants to get it back. She’s really, really ready to get back on the plane and find more coffee beans for people.

It took me a while to be okay with this book. I wasn’t sure at all that I was going to like it. Amy’s not very likeable in the beginning and as she muddles her way from mess to mess there are moments I wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled.

But then, even though I wasn’t a fan of some of Amy’s choices, I could step back and look at the book for what it was. As painful as it was to read, it was more real life than fiction. I realized the reason I didn’t like Amy so much was because in some ways, she reminded me of me. I am a business owner. I work from home so I can be with my kids, so I feel like I have the best of both worlds. But hey – moms are meaner than you’d think. Working moms are never accepted by stay at home moms and vice versa. Franken did an excellent job of pointing that out. Women are harder on each other than the men in their lives ever would be. And being a mom IS NOT EASY.

This book is hard to read at times, but it’s laugh out loud funny, REAL, and by the end, you’ll  be glad you stuck around through Amy’s story. This was a good one – lumps, bumps and coffee snobs included.