Reading Age: Young Adults 16+
Live from the Cafe by Tory Gates.
“What did you dream today?”
Harlandsville, Quebec—look up the definition of small town in a dictionary, and you’ll find its picture.
A one-stoplight village, Harlandsville doesn’t have a lot to offer, or so it seems. Old homes, an abandoned mill, a gas station, one Chinese takeout joint, and a former pub turned into a coffee shop. For the latter, one learns never to judge a book by its cover.
One step through the doors of Le Cafe, and you enter a world where the coffee is brewed one pot at a time through a strange machine, the pastries are homemade, and the music is a roadmap of Canada’s history.
Presided over by Luc, the son of one of Harlandsville’s most loved residents and his partner Emily, the cafe is home to natives and visitors alike. Where the coffee is strong, the spirit of friendship stronger, and occasional strange (and famous?) characters show up to hang out, and play music.
Small-town life, love, change, prejudice, pasts and futures are examined and experienced. The heartbeat of Harlandsville is right here. You never know who’ll show up, or what will happen next, Live from the Cafe…
Review by LogCabinKat: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Visit Le Cafe! Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2021. It is said that you can’t go home again. Well, in Tory Gates’ Le Café that’s exactly what the main characters did, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions each made.
Set in a small town in Canada, a little more than a stone’s throw from Montreal, Le Café is a tale, ultimately, of redemption and healing, with a fabulous soundtrack to boot. While there isn’t much to Harlandsville, Quebec beyond its one stoplight, an abandoned mill, a gas station, and a Chinese restaurant, there is one venue in town that’s the place where magic is made, partly in the form of strong, rich coffee.
Like many of his peers, Luc Bedard left Harlandsville in his rearview mirror when he set off for college. But a strange pull found him returning to the little village, where a shuttered pub beckoned for reclamation. Who better to help with such a project than Luc’s dear friend, and now partner, Emily, who left the town for her own deep reasons. Together, they’ve created a coffee shop and music venue that has become the heart of Harlandsville. Visited by a unique cast of characters, and some noteworthy musicians, Le Café is a truly singular place.
The work is Gates’ third book, and masterfully brings to life a small town in the middle of nowhere, proving that even in the tiniest of towns, wondrous things can and do happen. But it’s not all sunshine and perfectly frothed milk atop a steaming cappuccino. While the town seems trapped in a time long forgotten, the world has been moving forward around it, and it’s time for Harlandsville to catch up, in its own way.
Once again, we meet characters that are relatable and real, each one sure to cement a place in your heart. Along with Luc and Emily are a gathering of high school friends that learn, with the help of those around them, how to navigate life’s challenges, even when it seems impossible.
Woven among each character’s story, as well as the collective and compelling plot, is a soundtrack as soulful as it is diverse. On various open mic nights, musicians from all walks of Canadian and American life visit the humble café to play a tune or two, and to sit back and watch the next generation take the stage. Though readers are left to guess at exactly who is performing, clues are given in the form of apt descriptions and song lyrics, so that by the time you reach the final performer, you can’t help but cheer as you realize just who is gracing the stage.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of these people, each bringing their own depth and personality, is that conflict, for the most part, is resolved peacefully and through words and deeds, rather than violence and shouting. When things do go south for certain characters, and damage is done, space is made for healing. Given that this is a YA title, it’s an excellent way for younger readers (and even their adult counterparts) to learn the beauty of solving problems with compassion.
Though it might be a Young Adult novel, it easily appeals to the older folks through the music and the artists behind the tunes. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to guess at who was playing at open mic night and was pleasantly surprised by the “final act.”
Gates hits all the right notes with this book, so much so I found myself wistful for the actual existence of this cool little coffee shop. Pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and settle in for a simply marvelous visit to Le Café.
Paperback: 328 Pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (July 3, 2017)
Fiction (Dystopian and Utopia)
Fiction (Time Travel)
Fiction (Music Reference)
Fiction (Young Adult)
About The Author: Tory Gates has produced books for the Young Adult and Contemporary Fiction world since 2013. He takes readers to exotic locales, everyday places and brings to life characters that are relatable and real, while addressing real-life issues.
Tory is the author of the Sweet Dreams Series, a trilogy of works that combine time travel, Japanese culture and the power of music. “Searching for Roy Buchanan,” “Call it Love” and “Shake Hands with the Devil” are all available on Brown Posey Press, the fiction imprint of Sunbury Press Books. He is also the author of two other Brown Posey releases, the award-winning “A Moment in the Sun” and “Live from the Café.” Tory’s first book, “Parasite Girls” was released on Amazon and Smashwords.
A broadcaster with more than thirty-five years’ experience, Tory is a journalist, a presenter, producer. He can be heard on the Radio Pennsylvania Network and The Brown Posey Press Show, an interview program for independent and self-published authors. Tory is also known as “DJ`Riff,” host of “The Music Club,” a blues program for the London-based Radio-Airwaves Station.
A native of Vermont, Tory lives in Harrisburg, PA with a cat named Kao, and can be found anyplace that serves good coffee!
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