I wasn't sure about this one after reading the story line. But what swayed me in the end was the cover and thoughts of a story centered around a coffee shop. After all a coffee shop in a small community is filled with nothing but gossip! And that it most certainly was. This is a genre I can't quite put my finger on, a little thriller, a litter murder mystery but a lot of general fiction as well. The story follows many of the characters, one main voice is Liz, whose a liberal from the Mid-West that marries into a conservative Quaker family and now lives in rural North Carolina. A lot of the time trying to raise her children in the faith of a Quaker lifestyle can be a challenge for her, especially when her mother in law constantly watches over her shoulder.
In Liz's town of Ceder Branch, she has many friends that she leans on for support and to gossip about others with, even occasionally throw out the odd negative word or two about her in laws. But when one of her friends high politically standing father dies, Liz is forced to help pick up the pieces and in doing so, finds out secrets from the past that could threaten to dismantle the whole of her little town. A town that has a long history of racial tensions and wrong doings. While this is happening Liz must juggle her work and her family life. Her mother in law is more of a hand full then she can handle at the bet of times.
Suddenly a friend is diagnosed with cancer and some of the secrets Liz has found so hard to carry start spilling out in order to try and save a life, and to restore the good name of others. With the help of religion and the black and white communities, things can be done and the bad choices of others can start to be questioned, talked about and maybe even forgiven. But not without many troubles along the way. Trips to the next town to visit the hospital, the Easter parade float to make, weddings and trying to explain to the children how the dead hamster came to be, Liz has a lot to deal with.
Despite the heavy theme of religion in this book, I really enjoyed it (but saying that, there were a good few 'fuck you' comments towards religion that had me nodding and giggling away). There were some really amazing paragraphs and quotes that I even screen caped I was so impressed by the writing. I love the small town personalities that you meet throughout the story, even down to the man who sells peanuts all day, that just isn't quite right and the wonderful descriptions of the houses and shops. Some of the racism and sexism in the book is a little distressing, along with the theme of death. But there all something that has and still does happen in everyday life that you have to deal with, so it was interesting to read about the stereotype of rural North Carolina in that time. I really think this book review would have been easier to write if I wasn't so careful about giving spoilers away! But in summary, I think this could be one for everyone book shelves, a great and interesting read.