Cordelia Strube's forthcoming book, Misconduct of the Heart. (releases April 21) The premise had intrigued me....
"Stevie, a recovering alcoholic and kitchen manager of Chappy’s, a small chain restaurant, is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova: her PTSD-suffering veteran son, her uproariously demented parents, the polyglot eccentrics who work in her kitchen, the blind geriatric dog she inherits, and a damaged five-year-old who landed on her doorstep and might just be her granddaughter."
I picked it last week, sat in the sun and turned the first page....and was immediately hooked by the first few chapters. The introduction to Stevie et al is rough, raw and yes, powerful. Inside Chappy's you'll find the walking wounded, the marginalized, the forgotten and largely dysfunctional cast. And I wondered where in the world would Strube take this story from such a grab ya by the throat introduction?
But that was my initial gut response. As I kept reading, I found my perception changed - I cared about what happened to Stevie, her family and co-workers. I wanted more for them. My own emotions ran the gamut - anger, sadness, outrage (gotta love corporate - not) but also on the flip side hope, love and yes, humour.
One of the Chappy workers regals the others with animal kingdom facts. The facts given relate directly to what is happening in the book at that time - very clever. Stevie's inner dialogue and thoughts will make you stop and think. There is much wisdom to be found in her thoughts and dialogue. And I would challenge you to think about this character's observation...
"Olivia has this theory we go through life not really seeing what's around us or really knowing who's around us. And because we're shit-scared of what we don't know, we close our eyes to stuff."
When I first started to read the book, it was like a train wreck that I couldn't stop staring at. But by the end? Yeah, I wanted to know these people. They're so, so.... well, so real, so well depicted. Just people doing the best they can in the situation they're in - bad and good. Each player has a tale to tell and I was interested in each and every one. But Stevie? She was one of the best characters I've met in a long time.
And yes, there are some really heavy situations. Gentle readers - this is no holds barred read, certain situations may be triggers for some.
Strube is a very, very talented wordsmith with a sharp eye for the human condition. I absolutely loved this book. Hands down one of my faves for 2020.
PS - I really started wondering about the behind the scenes at the restaurant. Makes you wonder how much is truth - and how much of that is fiction.