“Coffee Killed My Mother” is the story of an eccentric mother and her quirky teenage daughter’s East Coast road trip in search of the perfect cup of coffee — and the sometimes emotional but always memorable adventures the pair encounters along the way.

A first-time novelist, Donna Koros Stramella is a lifelong Marylander who sent her fictional characters on a journey to explore some of her favorite places. She wanted to give readers who are not familiar with Maryland a peek at a beautiful state treasure like Deep Creek Lake. Stramella included visits to some of her favorite coffee shops in the book as well.

Coffee Killed My Mother is the intriguing story of 17-year-old Anna Lee and her recovering alcoholic, now coffee-addicted mother, Jacqueline. The mother-daughter duo set off on a random tour of independent coffee shops located up and down the Eastern Seaboard. But, as luck would have it, coffee was not the only thing on the menu this trip. Jacqueline uses this time with her daughter, a captive audience while riding in the vehicle, to dish out some very unsettling family secrets.

The story centers on the mother and adult child relationship; the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and aspirations that either bind close family members together or become the wedges that drive them apart. Jacqueline and Anna have more than adequate time on the road to express all that is on their minds and in their hearts, and then some. Stramella’s characters have a lot of substance and depth making them unquestionably believable although they are not based on real persons. According to the author, they are strictly the figments of her active imagination.

This tale is told from the daughter’s point of view and is not lacking in drama or lightheartedness. The role reversal between Anna and her mother is clear but taken in stride. Anna utilizes a more practical approach to situations as she takes responsibility for the rather eccentric Jacqueline who is a recovering alcoholic. Consistent on this story’s back lot is their spontaneous driving adventure along the beautiful East Coast, the places they visited and of course, the delicious coffee – the reason for this season.

Long hours driving on the highway brought about a roller coaster ride in an already strained relationship as Jacqueline implements her true agenda, to educate the unsuspecting Anna on several disturbing family matters now that she is coming of age. But all secrets are revealed in the end, including a few parting surprises for the reader. It’s an easy read with an unexpected ending.

Coffee Killed My Mother

by Donna Koros Stramella; Adelaide Books (2020)

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Sharon Schultz

Sharon is a writer/photographer and a proud “Bay” Boomer from Anne Arundel County and can be contacted at spcs924@hotmail.com