I bought this book on a complete whim when I was out in Waterstones for the first time since before lockdown, and I was super excited! I loved the cover, had heard the name flying about somewhere on bookstagram, so thought: why not give it a go?
Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a Japanese bestseller in translation, all about a little coffee shop in the back alley of Tokyo with unique powers – the ability to send people back in time. If a visitor sits in one particular seat, they can travel back to any moment they choose. But there’s a catch: they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.
First of all, I just wanted to say how much I love the concept of this book. I have such a vivid image in my head of what it would be like to live in this coffee shop of a world, where travelling in time becomes a way of finding purpose, of understanding others, of understanding yourself. I found myself telling my family the plot of the book in so much detail, because it’s such an inspiring story, I couldn’t help talking about it!
However, there is a but. The but is that I really did not enjoy the writing itself, and that disappoints me so much. I really wanted to like it – I tried so hard to like it – but I couldn’t connect to the characters in the way I wanted to. It felt like standing in front of a brick wall and I just couldn’t get past it.
For me, a good book is one I can connect with on a deeper level, one where the characters come alive and exist in themselves, and I think with this one they felt a little bit like templates that hadn’t fully formed inside my head yet, which is such a shame, but that’s my honest opinion!
Overall, I feel like this book has so much potential – there are so many different directions it could have taken. The key message by the end of the book did swing it for me a little, because I liked the way it was concluded (I won’t reveal spoilers, don’t worry), but I can’t give it more than 3 stars.
This book won’t be for everyone, and it was a very conflicting read for me, but I still feel like I got something out of it – I’m sure the plot will stick with me for a while, regardless.
Have you read Before the Coffee Gets Cold?
Let me know in the comments below!
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