May 14, 2013

Book Review: Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans by Joanne DeMaio

Title: Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans by Joanne DeMaio
Paperback published March 11, 2013
Genre: fiction, women's fiction

About the book: So much can happen in one summer. Friends reunite in the little town of Stony Point on Long Island Sound and renew old friendships, remember their youthful days growing up there, find out each other's secrets and their own deep family secrets, and work to resolve their future.
"...and in some way, they all hope those days aren't over, but if they are, can't they bring them back to life, for a night even, a song, a look? Can't they bring the past back, somehow, tonight?" (ch. 16)
The main characters: Maris is back home from Chicago to settle her father's estate and finds old family photographs that puzzle her. Jason has decided to move his architect's office to the Sound to renovate cottages, but is still haunted by the death of his younger brother Neil. Eva is a realtor on the island, married to Matt, but desperately longing to find her biological parents. Lauren and Kyle are a married couple on the point of breaking up because of Kyle's problem finding a steady job in Stony Point and because of Lauren's memories of the past.

The setting: A small town by the ocean, with beaches, boardwalks, seashells, driftwood, cottages, and a laid back tourist atmosphere. The author writes with the eye of a painter or photographer, contrasting light and shadow, day and night in her vivid descriptions of the Sound. There is symbolism too in the shadows that hang over some of the characters, and in the waves, the "swells of grief" that come over Lauren when she remembers the past.

Recommendation: I loved the descriptions of the people and the exploration of their personalities and feelings. I also liked the descriptions of Stony Point, and the use of the imagery of the setting to reflect the outward and inward drama of the characters.

Two minor things that I did notice, from an editing point of view: on a night out on the water, the "black sky" and the "blackness could swallow her whole" on page 44 becomes on page 46, a sky "heavy with thousands of stars and a nearly full moon painting a swath of amber light across the water."  A discrepancy, I felt in the description of the night.  Also bothering me was the sudden appearance of a character named Vinny who is not introduced to the reader; I was puzzled about who he was when he first appeared.

Objective rating: The plot was excellent, the setting and the characters memorable and real.  Overall, a satisfying ending to a summer reunion by the beach, a book for any season.

Visit the author's website or

Joanne DeMaio has also written the bestselling novel WHOLE LATTE LIFE, which won First Place in the 2012 Discovery Awards and was named a Kirkus Reviews Critics' Pick. BLUE JEANS AND COFFEE BEANS is her second novel. Both books explore the intricate relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends.  Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut and is at work on her next book.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book. 
This review is linked to Cym Lowell's Book Review Link Up

Other reviews: See Thoughts in Progress, Suko's Notebookand a giveaway at Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.


  1. I have always liked stories about people returning to their pasts.

    I think that the skies just cleared up very quickly:)

  2. Sounds like a perfect summer read. And I just love the title.

  3. Harvee, I also read this novel (and the author's earlier one). It was nice to see what you had to say about it. Lovely presentation!

  4. This sounds great. I'm like you, I will notice little discrepancies like that too, but as long as the storyline is good, I can overlook the little things.
    Great review!

  5. So glad that you enjoyed this one overall. I think I have one of her books on my Kindle!

  6. I loved this book! DeMaio is becoming one of my favorite authors!

  7. This sounds like an enjoyable summer read, but I'm sure the discrepancies you mentioned would bother me, too.

  8. What attracted me most is the setting. I am so tired of reading books whose stories are in big cities since I am from the city too. I long for the sunny days and pristine beaches. This will be a wonderful summer read. :)

  9. The Swinging Blue Jeans are one of my very favorite groups, so I'm after any other footage! Find Skull Jeans


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