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"Men like pie." Who would know the truth behind those words better than Elaina Brady's mother Maria? Months after she showed her teenage daughter how to bake perfect pie and hours after offering that culinary wisdom, Maria abandons Elaina, her sister Dee Dee and their father Walt. All it took was a lingering, lusty look from a Missoula trucker who stopped by their family's diner and ordered a slice of lemon meringue. Maria hitches a ride west with him, and with that impulsive decision, sixteen-year-old Elaina loses her mother and gains a job baking pies at the diner.
A decade after Maria's departure, Elaina is still working at The Terminal Diner, just around the bend from an upstate New York airport. Her humdrum life is defined by pie-baking routine. Elaina realizes painfully that all she still knows about the opposite sex is summed up in the three last words her mother spoke to her. Then one deceivingly beautiful morning in September 2001, horrifying acts committed by terrorists a hundred miles away upset her world, bringing new influences into her life and inspiring her to be like her mother-impulsive. Will Elaina survive the consequences of her actions?
The cover is so bright, that's what caught my attention in the Facebook group, Review Seekers when author MaryPat Hyland asked for reviews for her book. I looked it over, but for some reason I was expecting something different from this tale. Right away it goes into the tragedy of 9/11 and I admit that my eyes rolled and I nearly put the book down. Honestly I can't take the rabid patriot behavior surrounding that day, and was afraid this book would be full of it. Pleasantly surprised that she dealt with it in a way that it was a fact of life, and was honest about the way that so many people became paranoid and even more racist against people of Arab decent than ever before.
Elaina, even though she has lived a VERY sheltered life, was upset and horrified by the events, but refused to judge all people by that one day. In fact, across the street 3 cousins opened a car dealership/repair shop. Elaina became good friends with Zahir, the young man who ran the repair business. One day when Elaina was stuck by the side of the road, Zahir was the only one who stopped by to help her. They became fast friends and Elaina and her father defended and recommended Zahir to all their customers.
Elaina also befriends Rhey, a homosexual (yes this is an important characteristic because it's the only thing keeping them from being a couple - lol) artist from New York, who has returned home after a recent break-up to open a gallery at the old drive-in theater. Rhey is a lively character, and brings out the best in Elaina. He is constantly pushing her to be more spontaneous. When he goes on a month long cruise with his aunt, Elaina meets a sailor and elopes. Oh, poor Elaina has no idea who she just married. Part of her decision was based on her sister eloping with a friend and fellow cellist from Germany. It gets bad really fast, and the guy uses the "I'm a vet" line far too often that people start wondering if he really is.
I could not like Elaina's mother. She ran off without a word to anyone with the first nice guy to walk in the diner because she felt trapped. Did she bother discussing that with Walt - seems like he only bought the diner because it was in her family. That really annoyed me because she ditched not only him but her 2 girls. And while she said it was just because of feeling trapped, did she write the girls, call them, send them cards and gifts? Nope, not a thing until DeeDee (the sister) calls her to invite her to the marriage party Walt is throwing. And even then she was reluctant about returning, it just came off as so selfish. And I'm not sure if that was intentional or not.
The Terminal Diner has a great pace and while it is only 162 pages, it all fits in perfectly. Although I would have liked more romance between Walt (Elaina's father) and Angie - a long-time waitress in the diner.
I enjoyed the story, one of those coming of age tales that we all love so much.