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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
In Coffee Killed My Mother by Donna Koros Stramella, seventeen-year-old Anna Lee learns more about her mother on a trip than she has her whole life. Inspired by a comment on a blog about the abundance of coffee in a quaint cottage in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Anna Lee’s mother, Jacqueline Pierce, decides to embark on a trip to the cottage, taking Anna Lee along. Jacqueline, who has always had a poor sense of direction, leads them to Hanover, Maryland instead, which becomes their first stop. At different intervals during their journey, Jacqueline reveals different parts of herself unknown to her daughter. As Anna Lee takes in her mother’s revelations, she starts to connect with Jacqueline in a way that she had never done before.
Donna Koros Stramella’s development of Anna Lee and Jacqueline’s strained relationship is excellent. After watching her mother struggle with alcoholism combined with Jacqueline’s eccentric character, Anna Lee is critical of her mother. She has learned to avoid the triggers for her mother’s fragile state, choosing to conceal her thoughts instead. I loved that the story is written in the first person. The point of view helped me understand Anna Lee’s thoughts, actions, and perspective better. The gradual change between the mother and daughter relationship was wonderful to see. Since the work restricts the number of characters included, even the supporting characters are well developed. They are realistic and contribute to the main story. Coffee Killed My Mother is a moving women’s novel that skilfully explores a mother and her daughter’s flawed relationship.