- Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Mira Books (Sep 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1551667223
- ISBN-13: 978-1551667225
- Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.8 x 2.7 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,790,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The focus of this book is not about death and sadness, although it's certainly there. No, the focus is on life, love, family, friends, and community. Suicide is real and unfortunately happens everyday. Flamingo Diner focuses on the aftermath and the pieces that are left behind for loved ones to deal with. Along with the biggest question of all, something everyone wonders, WHY? Why would someone take their own life? Don Killian takes his own life. Now his family, friends, and the community must deal with the consequences. His wife Rosa falls into a deep depression. Jeff, his oldest son, falls apart. Andy, his youngest son, is suddenly wise beyond his years and tries to be the man of the family. Emma, his daughter and oldest child, now has everything put on her shoulders. She is going to need a lot of help. Who better than the man that has loved her most of his life, Police Chief Matt Atkins.
This story has so many wonderful elements. One is relationships. Rosa and Don's relationship was destroyed by lack of communication. Jeff and Marisol had a relationship that was presently unhealthy for both of them. Sylvia's marriage. Kim and Jolie's revolving door of men. The relationships between the people in the support group and their loved ones. And Emma and Matt--there is so much to say about them. Mostly, I loved the pure, unconditional, unselfish love that Matt had for Emma. Matt's love for Emma was like a breath of fresh air. I have to admit that occasionally I had to wonder if Matt deserved more than Emma. Emma's hesitation, doubts, and stubborn independence made me want to smack her at times. Any woman would be lucky to have someone like Matt in their lives. But, it's not just about relationships between men and women, but also relationships between siblings, mothers and children, friends, etc..
Flamingo Diner is a story about death, but more importantly it is a story about Life! If I was disappointed with any aspect about the book it would be that the author did not include an Epilogue. I would love to have gotten a glimpse of this family and community a few years down the road, but perhaps in this case it was best that there wasn't one. Most Epilogue's show us a happily ever after for the characters, but in real life not everyone gets a happily ever after and Flamingo Diner is definitely a reflection of real life. Flamingo Diner was an enjoyable read that I would highly recommend. Thanks Sherryl!
I found the main character, Emma, to be extremely annoying and selfish. Perhaps it's just that I have a differing viewpoint of death and suicide, but I just couldn't understand the survivor guilt. Emma's dogged pursuit for the reason behind her father's suicide, knowing full well that any verification of it would jeopardize the insurance money that her family desperately needs, just made no sense to me. I disliked the fact that she began the investigation and involved a public official in it unilaterally, never bothering to discuss her action with her mother or her siblings until after the fact. Also, coming from a family where my mother was widowed young, I had absolutely no sympathy with the mother locking herself away for weeks in her room nursing her own hurt and anger when her children needed her. My mother never behaved that way, no matter how much she was hurting. Perhaps this reflects a real-life experience, I don't know, but I could not respect the mother after that.
Regarding the romance between Emma and Matt, this was one of those situations where you have this gorgeous bad-boy who's made good type in love with a woman forever, she loves him, but she's afraid to commit to him because she has an independent life elsewhere. Nevermind that in that other life she's basically a glorified shop clerk who's never going to be able to do the job she actually wants to do, nevermind that she apparently has no social life and only a limited amount of friends. THAT life is better in her eyes than being with a man whose love she reciprocates, having her beloved family nearby, and the possiblity of owning her own antiques business. Just made me want to give her a smack upside her head.
When Emma returns home, she finds her mother in denial about her husband's death and refusing to get out of bed, her middle brother is trying to dull his problems with drugs and her youngest brother mad because Emma did not come home when he asked her to. Although the coroner rules the death an accident, Emma suspects it's suicide based on her brother's phone call. Matters get further complicated when her father's will is read and it's discovered that he not only spent all the family money but has heavily mortgaged the house and the family diner. Emma asks her childhood friend, Matt Atkins, who is now chief of police, to help her find out what really happened to her father so she can have closure. In order to save her family, Emma quits her DC job and stays in Winter Cove to run the diner.
This was a very interesting story. Woods did a good job of developing her characters. I felt the anguish of the characters as they came to grips with the suicide of their father/husband. Matt was a great male lead. Emma was a very strong female lead but her obsession with having to return to DC, even when she realized she liked being back in Winter Cove, was irritating after awhile. Overall, this book is worth reading.
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