Tales from the Cafe

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Oct. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781335630988. $19.99. FANTASY
This meaningful and emotional sequel to Before the Coffee Gets Cold features four interconnected stories with a broad range of characters. The fascinating premise unfolds in a Tokyo café that allows a return to the past, as long as the patrons don’t leave their seats and as long as they finish what they need to do before their coffee gets cold. No matter what they do, the café patrons cannot change the present; some of them wonder, What’s the point of going back in time? As the characters seek and discover the answer to that question, their stories gracefully confront hard topics such as bereavement, despair, parenthood, financial destitution, suicide, miscarriage, and illness. Kawaguchi has found a unique way to manipulate such a commonly used trope as time travel and has captured the power of joy as a legacy.
VERDICT These tearful stories hit hard but ultimately lead to a beautiful ending. Fans of Matt Haig’s Midnight Library will enjoy this quick read with touches of magical realism and soul-searching.
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