Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book Review: The Welcome Home Diner, by Peggy Lampman

Guest review by: Erin Krajenke

"The past year’s been insane. Sam and I purchased the diner two months after we bought our home. Sam’s eyes, unsullied by my gloomier point of view, unlocked a world of opportunities to me. Through the prism of her vision, I came to imagine the decrepit diner as a canvas on which to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood, our decaying home as a palace of potential delight…We divided the two-story house into separate living quarters. Sam lives on the first level, and I’ve set up house on the second. Each floor is about 1,500 square feet. Enough space so we each have a kitchen, living-dining room area, and a bedroom.

…We purchased the house for three thousand dollars in a land-grab auction, sight unseen, and it’s in dire need of repair. But everything’s relative. All that remains of several other houses on our block – as well as those in the vicinity of the diner – are burned wooden beams to suggest there was once a home, a pile of rubble in front to remind us it has a porch.

…It’s amazing how cheap it is to live in Detroit. We’re betting our dwindling start-up capital will tide us over until we can make an income. We couldn’t have opened the diner without Kickstarter, which is an online way of soliciting folks who may be interested in patronizing entrepreneurial ventures. What a godsend, that money.”

This story pulled me in right away. Not only is the writing style fun and easy, but the story revolves around Detroit and Michigan in general (I live in Michigan), and it takes place in a diner, so there is a lot of food talk which I also love.

Official synopsis:
Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town. There’s just one little snag in their vision.

Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification – and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community. Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.

As the long hours, problematic love interests, and underhanded pressures mount, the two women find themselves increasingly at odds, and soon their problems threaten everything they’ve worked for. If they are going to realize their dreams, Addie and Samantha must focus on rebuilding their relationship. But will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home?

Honestly, the synopsis on the back of the book (above) makes the book sound cheesy to me. This book was an easy and fun story without much conflict. The conflict and struggle it is trying to suggest isn’t very prevalent in the book and in my mind, a slight misrepresentation of the book. It’s as if the story "must" have conflict.

This story is about two cousins from Michigan who move to Detroit, buy a decrepit house, and open an old-school diner. Throughout the story they mention numerous Detroit and Michigan references (Techno Fest, Belle Isle, and Shinola to name a few) which for me, made the story much more relatable, interesting, and fun. The story is about their journey making a name and a home for themselves in a part of town that hasn’t seen any revitalization yet and detailing the ways they are trying to help the neighborhood, the neighbors, and the city as a whole. It is a nice story and I liked the comradery of all of the characters. It even included many recipes in the back of the book for items mentioned being served at the diner which I thought was fun. In fact, I plan on making the Heartbreaker cookies this weekend. In a way, the story reminded me of a love letter to Detroit.

“I am Detroit. My city is me. Shaped by the grit of our ancestry, we roll onward, rubber burning asphalt, always driving forward. Yesterday we spun out of control. We crashed and we burned, blind to the faces in our rearview mirror, broken glass in the street. But that was then. This is now. And we’re back at the wheel. Time to hustle our jam, here’s my ode, dear D. It’s time for us to shine.” 

Fun Fact: The more I read this story, the more it reminded me of Rose’s Fine Food in Detroit. I contacted the author, and it turns out, that was in fact the inspiration for the story. So after you read it, go check out the diner! Rose’s Fine Food: 10551 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48214.

Star rating: 5/5 stars
{click here to purchase}

Erin Krajenke is a chatty Virgo. On a recent trip to Thailand, she discovered the joy of mango sticky rice, the bliss of butterfly pea tea, and the misery of ascertaining a cashew allergy while on a 13 hour flight.


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