About the Book: Twenty-three years ago, beauty queen Peach Rondell left Mississippi and vowed never to return. Now she's back, divorced and heartbroken, trying to figure out how her life went so terribly wrong. To escape her mama's scrutinizing gaze, she spends her days in a little storefront diner called the Heartbreak Cafe, where, in the back booth, she scribbles away in her journal, waiting for enlightenment. Instead, Peach gets something even better: the unexpected friendship of an unlikely group of folks who show Peach that finding out where you're going usually means embracing where you're from.
My Comments: Usually when you think of someone running home to Mama after a divorce, you think of someone who wants (and expects) love and acceptance, someone to bolster him/her and remind him/her of his/her love-ability. Peach went home to Mama because she thought she had no place else to go, and she realized that the "cost" was going to be living with a hyper-critical woman she could never please; someone whose goal in life was keeping up appearances; someone she had avoided since she married.
The story is told in the first person, by Peach and Peach is working with a counselor who has her journaling her thoughts and feelings, trying to lead her to a more mentally healthy place in life.
I loved the writing and writing style. I enjoyed the story, though I found it somewhat implausible. A woman with a college degree has no place to go after a divorce, but back to a hyper-critical mom, who she has avoided for twenty years? Once she gets to her hometown, she doesn't go look for a job; rather she sits in a cafe and journals? This goes on for months, not days. After a stroke we find out that Peach's mom isn't such a bad person, deep down. She was only trying to meet the expectations her mom had for her.
Penelope Stokes got her writing start in Christian fiction. This book, while containing themes of forgiveness and redemption, is not Christian fiction. Not only is there no overt call to conversion, there are a few passages that are critical to organized religion. There is one major character who is identified as homosexual, though his sex life is not part of the book.
As an alumna of Mississippi University for Women (a/k/a the W) I enjoyed seeing it mentioned in the book, but it was just in passing.