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literary inklings

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Review: Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans by Joanne DeMaio

After her father’s death, Maris Carrington leaves her comfortable life in Chicago for the small Connecticut town where she grew up. The last of her family, with only an aunt living worlds away in Italy, Maris finds herself overwhelmed by the effects inherited from her father, including a plucky German Shepherd and an 8mm role of film that will change her life completely. The only appropriate place to sort through these new revelations is Stony Point, the quaint beach town where she spent her adolescent summers; the town full of close friends and fond memories that she left behind for the big city. Time has gone on for them all, but Stony Point remains the same: it remains the youthful dream world of Maris, Jason, Eva, Matt, Neil, Kyle, Lauren, Vinny, and Paige. As the circle of friends find themselves drawn back to the beach they realize just how much has changed between them. Maris is torn between her steady Chicago life with her steady Chicago boyfriend and the gentle magic of life in Stony Point with the one who got away, wounded architect Jason. Jason is fighting his own battle, particularly a war of demons waging within him over the death of his brother Neil. Kyle and Lauren have found their marriage on the rocks. Eva just wants to know life as anything other than an orphan, a void that even her family with Matt hasn’t filled. As they all come together at Stony Point, they’ll find in each other the strength to face their troubles and overcome their obstacles.

Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans has all the makings of a perfect summer read: the idyllic beach town, captured by beautiful descriptions; the cast of characters, each one endearing themselves to the reader; the poetic language of author Joanne DeMaio’s writing style; the truly surprising plot-twists woven throughout a fascinating story. It absolutely fits the bill, much like DeMaio’s first novel, the charming Whole Latte Life. But there’s something bigger about Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans; it feels as though the author has graduated to a different level by taking on tougher life challenges and a fuller cast. DeMaio has a particular knack for her themes – namely friendship, family, romance, and the beach; combined with her terrific storytelling ability and the certain literary glow of her writing style, the novel leaves a decidedly impressive mark on its reader.

As much as it struck me as being about a collection of deeply emotional themes, I also found it to be an interesting character study. Maris and her friends all have flaws, they’re all very human, and the exposure of their imperfections struck me as very brave. At times I felt Eva’s selfishness for not embracing the family she had, or I was exasperated with Lauren for pushing her husband away. If that were the extent of the characters’ presence it would be easy for a reader to feel irritated by them, but there’s a certain depth to them all that evokes the reader’s empathy instead. Maris, despite having plenty of things to deal with herself, is perhaps the strongest of the cast, and the most relatable; it makes her an ideal focal point amid the numerous other characters and their stories. On that subject, with a group this large and with small plot points woven between them, it would be easy for anything to go awry – the author or the reader could lose interest, and the story could falter – but I found the novel to be solid, with every element taking deep root.

A lot of things stood out to me, but especially the setting; DeMaio creates a dreamers’ Connecticut that had me wanting to take off for the coast to discover my own Stony Point. While it is the recipe for a wonderful summer read, it’s also not your average beachside book. Cozy and eloquent, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans is a novel that truly feels like home.

Title: Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans Author: Joanne DeMaio Genre: drama, romance Publisher: Joanne DeMaio Available Formats: e-book, paperback Release date: March 11, 2013 Provided by: Mary DeMaio (c/o) Buy the book: Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble Connect with the author: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans