Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Love, Loss and Letting Go

Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes: A Novel
Visit Joanne DeMaio's website
By Joanne DeMaio

208 pages. CreateSpace (November 14, 2013)

When journalist Vera Sterling returns home to Addison, Connecticut for her sister’s February wedding, she did not expect to feel so at home. Recently laid off from her newspaper position in Boston, the comforts of her hometown promise a familiar reconnection to family, old friends and her roots. By September, she is still unemployed and returns to Addison, pouring her remaining savings into a historic colonial home walking distance from the town square. The drafty old house once hosted the local favorite Christmas shop in the barn out back.

Fixing up the rambling old home with a widow’s walk overlooking the cove, Vera heads to the local hardware store and meets Derek Cooper. Reluctantly, Derek agrees to help Vera with some repairs, and then reveals his struggle with the loss of a child in the cove five years ago. As Derek focuses only on the festival honoring his daughter, Vera searches for a way to support not only herself, but Derek’s grief and the festival as well.

DeMaio pulls in some favorite traditions of the holidays: a mother collecting ornaments for her young daughter, a family playing games on a winter night, the cheers of a community gathering in a familiar place. At only 208 pages, Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes illustrates the power of embracing what you have and finding what you seek in front of you. The story provides a perfect-sized holiday treat – a cozy story about love and loss, letting go of what was and opening up to what is.

Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes explores how we redefine ourselves through loss and how we find peace only through accepting life with all its detours. Laced with snowflakes, DeMaio urges her characters to stop and pay attention to the here and now – a gracious reminder during the hectic holiday season to appreciate the little joys in life, like the simple miracle of snow. 
“Snowflakes are so beautiful. Their symmetry and delicateness is something to behold. Especially the perfect crystals. But you know, Vera. Most snowflakes are actually distorted or disproportionately shaped. So much happens to any single one as it moves through the clouds and deals with the different elements, the humidity and wind and temperature. He stops then, watching those distant cirrus clouds for a long moment, then turning and looking directly at Vera. “Very, very few make it to the ground in perfect shape.”

Note: I received an Advance Reader’s Copy for the purposes of reviewing this book. 

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