Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Welcome Home Diner: A Taste of Detroit

I was attracted by the cover, and then intrigued by the story line of The Welcome Home Diner, which is set in a nearly abandoned East Side Detroit neighborhood.

Cousins Addie and Samantha are part of the influx of idealistic young people flocking to the city with visions of being part of its comeback. They buy a long abandoned diner and serve up locally sourced foods, using heirloom recipes from their Polish grandmother.

The book is packed with Detroit references from the Packard Auto Plant to the Detroit Zoo, the Eastern Market to Holiday Market.

The characters are optimistic and excited about Detroit's future, and happy to be part of its transformation. They hope that the Welcome Home Diner will become a neighborhood gathering place. But the locals are fearful: gentrification brings higher taxes, and those who have stayed can't afford to pay them.

Addie and Samantha both struggle with guy problems that require a need for self-understanding and personal growth. What they learn is good advice for all.

They take huge risks beyond investing in a decimated neighborhood. They hire an escapee from human trafficking and a young man whose tragic teenage mistake landed him in prison.

Behind the hard work, flirtations and commitment issues, and endeavoring to bring locals into the diner and not just suburbanites, they are being stalked by an unknown person who is trying to destroy all they are building.

I don't read a lot of 'women's fiction' or romance or 'foodie' books with recipes. This novel certainly will be enjoyed by readers who love those genres. I do read books that incorporate social and political issues into entertaining stories. This book certainly hit that mark for me.

Book Club Discussion Questions are included as well as recipes, including Greens with Turnips and Potlikker, Cabbage Rolls,  Lamb Burger Sliders, Ginger-Molasses Bundt Cake with lemon Curd, and Heartbreaker chocolate chip cookies! Yum!

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Welcome Home Diner
by Peggy Lampman
Lake Union Publishing
ISBN: 9781542047821
PRICE $14.95

Author Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama but attended the University of Michigan, After working as a copywriter and photographer fin New York City she returned to Ann Arbor and opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Later, she wrote a food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman’s first novel, The Promise Kitchen, published in 2016, garnered several awards and accolades. She is married and has two children. She also writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com.

From the publisher:
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?