Tuesday, November 7, 2017
The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman
Two women, cousins decide to open their dream diner in Detroit and attempt to rejuvenate a distressed neighborhood. Addie is driven, determined to match her life to the schedule she laid out for herself years ago and not willing to stop until she has everything she wants. Sam is more laid-back, taking life as it comes. She does the baking while Addie does the books and runs the front. They hire neighborhood residents as kitchen and wait staff and their goal is to provide healthy, tasteful meals in the farm to table tradition so popular currently and to provide an alternative to the fast food choices the residents have now.
The two women grew up sharing summers on their Polish grandparents' farm, learning to cook from their grandmother. She taught them the traditional Polish dishes handed down from generation to generation in their family. Sam's parents were also farmers, former hippies who came back home to start their own farm and raise goats. Addie's parents were more into money and influence and their marriage broke apart while Addie was still a young girl. For both girls, the summers were beacons in their lives and strengthened the bond between them until they were more like sisters than cousins.
The diner is a huge undertaking but it seems that it is going to make it. Then stresses start to hit. The tables are crowded but it is white professionals that discover the diner and rave about it. The neighborhood people they hoped to serve want no part of them, seeing them as interlopers. They run afoul of a business that preys on new start ups and when they cut their contract, try to intimidate them. Worst of all, they develop a mystery stalker who gives them bad reviews on social media, making outright lies about the diner such as their water is tainted or their food is underdone making customers sick. Will the stresses they face and their differing personalities pull the women apart and put an end to their dream?
Peggy Lampman has written an entertaining tale about how to make a dream come true. She doesn't sugarcoat the hard work that goes into it, or the difficulty of working with people unlike you towards a common goal. The various cultures represented by the women and their employees as well as the traditional neighborhood are presented in a valuing way. The love lives of the women, which match their basic personalities, are explored as well. The book ends with some of the recipes talked about in the story of the diner. This book is recommended for readers of women's literature as well as those who enjoy reading about food related topics.