Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Cafe
by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs
April 8, 2015
What if the world didn’t want you to go straight?
Out on parole after almost ten years in prison, Emet First is repairing his shattered life. He has friends, a job, and his first date in a decade. The young woman, Mercedes Finch, is lovely but wounded. When her deranged brother learns about Emet’s past, he will stop at nothing to destroy him—and suddenly Emet has everything to lose.
This short story kept me on the edge of my seat. And it made me hungry, too. Emet works for Eden Rose at the Serve You Right Cafe. The pastries made me drool. I think Ms. Jacobs could write a second book that just contained the recipes for the goodies in this one.
Emet has only been out of prison for a month. He has spent the last ten years in jail for manslaughter. Eden Rose feels everyone deserves a second chance and Emet is an extraordinary baker so she hires him. When we first meet these two, Emet has asked Mercy (a woman he met out and about) out on a date, and she said yes.
While Emet, Mercy and Eden are central to the plot, there are a lot of secondary characters that make this a lovely read, including an elderly couple who live in the park. Ms. Jacobs writes in an author's note at the end of the book that she had all these little stories in her head and when she drove by a coffee house one day, they all came together in a fictional coffee shop in her head. I liked many of these characters, so I'm glad it gelled!
Mercy's twin brother, Clay, is everything she's not. She's driven, kind, smart, and sweet. He is not. After their mother is moved into a home, he knows that Mercy is on her way out, too. He can't stand that. He deserves to be catered to, taken care of, fed, and housed, or at least that's what his stoned brains are telling him. When he sees she really is going, he decides to do everything in his power to make her stay. To say he is delusional would be an understatement. And his conniving, violent, and evil ways kept me on the edge of my seat.
There were some truly wonderful lines in this book. Here are a couple:
Emet smiled at her. "Do you ever get tired of being right?"
"Never. It's a constant thrill."
"Everyone has a past," he said. "And no one has the future. We all have now, and right now, I like what I see."
"I live for the midnight info-dump. In fact, when I got up this morning I said to my cats, 'You know what's missing in my life? A late-night confessional to curl my toes."
"Do you always go shopping at the Crazy Store? It sounds like you bought out their entire stock."
There were many cute moments (along with the TENSION) in this one. And while it's short, it still has all the things I want in a novella: A beginning, middle and an end! I will definitely be looking for more from this author.
Thank you, Linden Tree Press and NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this book.
Tilia Klebenov Jacobs holds a BA from Oberlin College, where she double-majored in Religion and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Following an interregnum as an outdoor educator with the Fairfax County Park Authority in Virginia, she earned a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Secondary School Teaching Certification from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Despite lacking the ability to breathe fire except in the strictly metaphorical sense, Tilia has taught middle school, high school, and college. She has also won numerous awards for her fiction and nonfiction writing. She is a judge in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and she teaches writing in two prisons in Massachusetts. Tilia lives near Boston with her husband, two children, and two standard poodles.
Connect with the author: