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By Joanne DeMaio
325 pages. CreateSpace (March 12, 2012)
“Wishes are a mystery to me. It’s like putting your hope out there, opening a part of your heart to the constellations.”
Friday morning a new friend posed the question, “What’s your latest wish?” Stumped before the day even began, I was unsure how to respond; so I didn’t. Later I seized a few minutes to read her new novel when the words above appeared at the bottom of the page. I reread those lines again and again.
Friends since childhood, Sara Beth Riley and Rachel DeMartino meet regularly over coffee in their picturesque Connecticut hometown. They plan a Girls Weekend in New York City to spend their fortieth birthdays together. Complete with stops at the Empire State Building, Tiffany’s and The Today Show, the four-day celebration promises lasting memories. When Sara Beth walks out of a restaurant leaving behind only a note, the perplexed and overwrought Rachel searches Manhattan for her missing friend.
Sara Beth seeks a few days of freedom. She tries to cope with an unplanned child, the unexpected death of her mother and the indefinite postponement of her antique shop dreams. Struggling to reclaim her sense of self in a seemingly idyllic life, she runs away. She loses grip on her marriage, her three kids, and her best friend in a desperate attempt to regain balance and clarity.
Rachel also hopes the weekend will heal old wounds. The outing replaces the birthday trip her husband planned before his death two years ago. Widowed and her daughter away at college, her friend’s desertion leaves Rachel worried, confused and alone. When a mounted officer offers her company in the city, she faces more uncharted territory.
Rachel and Sara Beth are highly relatable and complex women facing unforeseen and life-altering challenges. Told from the perspective of four characters, their stories wind through their small town, Manhattan, and a seaside retreat on Long Island.
DeMaio’s lyrical language, combined with her exploration of the lingering power of our expectations and our choices, creates an inspiring novel of love and loyalty--loyalty to mothers, to spouses, to traditions, and to friends. Whole Latte Life is a beautifully articulated story of loss and redemption, lasting connections and unconditional love.