Before The Coffee Gets Cold somehow found its way into my hands as I floated around Waterstones in a birthday gift card book buying binge. I don’t recall picking it up. When I got home I discovered it in my bag. Strange. So, I was on the verge of taking it back and swapping for a steamy romance but after reading the blurb and finding it fascinating, I decided to give this book a home.
This story is about a strange cafe in Tokyo which allows its customers to time travel. From this cafe they can either return to their own past or visit the future.
The time travel sounded amazing to me, however then I read that there were a number of restrictions which apply to the time travel:
- You can’t go back in time and meddle with things. The present cannot be changed.
- You can only stay in the past or future until your cup of coffee gets cold so not long to enjoy yourself.
- You can only meet people from your past or future in the cafe.
- You can’t leave your seat.
- You can’t just waltz in off the street and time travel. You have to be patient with your wish. Only one chair in the cafe permits you to time travel and you have to wait until it becomes vacant. It is always occupied by a strange ghost woman who rarely moves.
By this point I was thinking the author was definitely a time travel party pooper!
The novella is made up of four short stories which recount the experiences of four unique individuals who enter the cafe and time travel.
Well, this book proved to be quite a reading experience!
I am going to be honest for the first part of the book I was worrying whether I had made the right decision with not taking it back.
BUT halfway through the book the penny dropped inside my head. I understood what this book was trying to convey. BOOM!
Then everything changed and I was staring in amazement at it.
I do love it when a book opens up like this.
Here’s the blurb:
What would you change if you could go back in time?
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Here’s my review:
The first story about Fumiko Kiyokawa, a business woman who wants to redo a talk with her boyfriend, who left her to move to America was like the warm up for the book. I didn’t feel a connection to her but her story set up the cafe, the rules of time travel and how the whole thing works.
The second story about nurse Kohtake, longing to meet her sick husband, who can no longer recognize her was an emotional read. Her love for her husband was so beautifully told. To my surprise it was very uplifting at the end.
The third story of Hirai was an emotion upgrade for me. Hirai wants to tell her little sister she feels sorry for shunning her for years. Well, this author cleverly played my emotions like a musical instrument. He took me to the depths of despair and by the end brought me back to an uplifting climax.
Don’t get my started on the fourth story! I was beside myself. Oh my goodness – what a tale!
I loved the little detail in this book; how the cafe was always cool no matter what the temperature outside was and the detailed descriptions of the character outfits. I also adored how all the stories are interlinked.
This clever and enlightening book is about finding closure to difficult things which have happened in your life and at the same time using the experience as an opportunity to improve the future version of you.
We can’t change the past but we can accept what happened, learn from our mistakes and move forward with a positive mindset.
It also makes you think about who you would go back and talk to?
If you want a quirky and thought provoking read – this is for you!