The Crossroads Cafe follows the lives of two strangers, Cathryn Deen and Thomas Mitternich as they first become friends and then something more. Both have been scarred by life - Cathryn is physcially scarred when she is horrifically burnt in a car accident, and Thomas is mentally scarred by guilt and depression following the death of his wife and son in the World Trade Center on September 11th.
The book alternates between Cathy and Thomas's point of view, a style which lends itself very well to the story and we get to experience the events that unfold through both of their eyes.
Following the car accident, Thomas is persuaded by Cathryn's cousin (Delta, owner of The Crossroads Cafe) to phone the hospital posing as Cathryn's husband so they can find out what's happening to her. Unbeknownst to them, Cathryn's husband has already distanced himself from her and isn't visiting her. It is the phone calls and packages from Delta that give Cathryn the strength to keep going, even when she's reached rock bottom.
Meanwhile, Thomas has problems of his own. An alcoholic, he hasn't come to terms with the death of his wife and child, holding himself responsible for their loss. When Cathryn returns to her grandmother's North Carolina home to make a new life for herself, she gradually begins a relationship with Thomas, that will eventually heal them both.
In a way the relationship between Cathy and Thomas starts before either of them have ever met. Thomas writes to her, filling her in on the things that are happening in the North Carolina community. It gives her something to hold onto, when she feels like she has nothing left.
The book deals with a difficult subject matter for both Thomas and Cathryn, but it is full of witty, wry, self-depracating dialogue that brings a smile to your face, whilst at the same time taking you into the hearts of the characters and their community.
Although the initial scenes of the accident are intense, for the most part the book has a slow pace that draws you into the world of The Crossroads Cafe. You follow the burgeoning relationship between Cathy and Thomas, their progression from friends, to lovers, to family. Towards the end I felt like the plot had lost it's way a little bit, and maybe it was slightly longer than it needed to be, but this is a book that I would come back to re-read again and again.