Review by KT Sullivan
After ten years, Emet First is out of prison and working at the Serve You Right Café as a baker. He also has asked Mercey Finch, a therapist, out on a date. Eden Rose is a recovering alcoholic, his employer, and excited about his prospects. He asks for advice about bringing up his past to Mercey. Eden is in the park visiting an elderly homeless couple, Isadore and Daisy. They are the café’s official taste testers of new menu items. Emet graduated from the prison’s culinary arts program and appreciates their input. Isadore advises to tell the truth, but not too much on the first date. Mercey has secrets too, an abusive mother and a drug addicted twin brother named Clay. “Everyone has a past, no one has the future,” Emet tells her when they both confess. Her only bright spot is her dog, Serena. Serena works in the prison to help the inmates cope. Mercey has decided to move out of the family home and Clay is paranoid. She promised to stay and take care of him. He overhears Emet’s confession and decides to make trouble for him. Clay doesn’t realize Emet is surrounded by friends and people willing to help him. Clay bothers the wrong people and his plan is ruined, but he’s not done with Mercey.
The dialogue is very witty and everyone has great comebacks. This is a sweet love story between two shy damaged people and what it takes for them to be together.
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“Twelve Things about Tilia Klebenov Jacobs”
1. I wrote Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café, which you totally should buy.
2. When I was seventeen I went to Bulgaria with six live lobsters and no visa.
My father worked for the Foreign Service, which meant that we had friends all over the world. Close family friends in Bulgaria invited me to visit over winter break my senior year in high school. We applied for a visa, which was supposed to go straight to my dad’s friend at the State Department so he could bang a couple of stamps on it and get it to us in plenty of time. The darned thing never showed up. The day before my trip my dad’s friend descended to the bowels of the State Department and tore apart the mail room looking for it. Sure enough, there it was—no one had delivered it. By that time it was too late to get it to me with the proper documentation, so we told our friends in Bulgaria and they got me a visa at the airport when I landed. You could do that back then. Maybe you still can.
As for the lobsters, the mother of the family loved them so we picked out half a dozen at the Legal Seafood outlet at Logan Airport in Boston, and had them specially packed so they would fit under my seat. This was before TSA; it’s quite possible you can no longer do this, since if you bring fresh lobster to overseas friends, the terrorists have won.
3. I teach writing to prison inmates.
Several years ago, a volunteer organization contacted me and asked me to be one of their teachers. I found the idea of walking into a prison so completely terrifying that I knew I had to do it. I now teach in four prisons, both with the volunteer organization and independently.
4. I consort with known felons.
See #3, above.
5. My first language is Spanish.
My father’s first overseas assignment was in Panama, and my older sister was born there. Having just learned Spanish themselves, my parents decided to speak only that language with the baby for the first few years, a practice they continued with all four of the kids in our family. This is an impressive feat of parenting, and I have had more than one occasion to thank my folks for it, such as the time I placed out of the language requirement for my master’s degree by translating a page of Latin American theology into English in well under the hour allotted.
6. I had lived on three continents by the time I was twelve.
See “my father worked for the Foreign Service” at #2, above.
7. I am a competitive ballroom dancer.
I cherish a fantasy of starring on a show called Dancing with the Overeducated Housewives.
8. I also lift weights, and have since high school.
In college my friends called me Moose.
9. I have two degrees in theology.
Which even as I earned them I called “pre-unemployment.”
10. I have worked variously as a janitor, secretary, whale watch naturalist, park naturalist, and housing coordinator for an opera company.
See “two degrees in theology/pre-unemployment,” above.
11. When I was writing my first book, I interviewed two FBI agents and was subsequently invited to FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.
I needed some information about how an FBI investigation would work, so I contacted their PR department and made a nuisance of myself till they caved. The agents were really lovely, and once they heard my then seven-year-old son wanted to be an FBI agent, they asked him and me to visit them.
12. I enjoy gardening.
But who doesn’t?
About the Author:
Tilia Klebenov Jacobs holds a BA from Oberlin College, where she double-majored in Religion and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Following an interregnum as an outdoor educator with the Fairfax County Park Authority in Virginia, she earned a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Secondary School Teaching Certification from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Despite lacking the ability to breathe fire except in the strictly metaphorical sense, Tilia has taught middle school, high school, and college. She has also won numerous awards for her fiction and nonfiction writing. She is a judge in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and she teaches writing to prison inmates. Tilia lives near Boston with her husband, two children, and two standard poodles.
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Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café has just been declared a "Best of Summer" read by IndieReader. Click HERE to check it out!
Tilia is giving two lucky winner signed copies of
Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café
And everyone who enters gets an e copy of her earlier novel
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
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