Monday, November 16, 2009
REVIEW: The Espressologist
Springer, K. (2009). Espressologist. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
30-Second Plot Summary: Jane can tell a lot about a person based on the drink they choose at the cafe where she works. She starts putting her knowledge to good use, playing matchmaker among the customers and her fellow baristas. When her boss hears about her successes, Jane's skill becomes a Winter Holiday promotion complete with lines around the block and media attention. Even with the mounting chaos, Jane may even stir-up a match of her own.
So, speaking as a coffee addict and former barista, I had to read this book! In fact, I found myself wondering why I hadn't written a book with a similar premise. I used to have a crush on a regular customer who always ordered a grande, skim, white mocha. I was always a venti, soy, white mocha (with whip!) drinker myself. I think we would have been a good match. That is until he started bringing in a girl with him who ordered "what he's having." Ugh. *Roll eyes* Make your own decisions, girl.
So, anyway, reading Espressologist brought back fond memories of working in a cafe. Probably it brought back fonder impressions than the memories actually deserve. Remember, me! You had to stand all day! Some customers were jerks! Caffeine addicted JERKS!
Now onto the book itself. I think I love the premise more than the actual book. Springer's writing is good. I wanted to like Jane, but her interest in going to school for fashion didn't match with her characterization as a super-psychologist-personality-matcher enough. Plus all the mentions of skinny jeans fur-lined vests and skinny jeans are only going to date the book. There were also too many people introduced too quickly for my taste.
I also had trouble with both the villain and main love interest. I needed more reason for Melissa, a super-mean girl, to be mean. Don't get me wrong, I love evil characters. I just need a hint of why she's so evil. And as for the main love interest (I won't say his name, since there is a faux one running around) I needed him to have more face-to-face time with Jane. I mean, there are hints of why he's a good guy, but I needed to see more of Jane connecting with him early on.
As I read the book, I was strongly reminded of Vegan Virgin Valentine. If a student likes one, the other is a natural recommendation. They'd be good for comparison, since there are some key differences among the protagonists.
This is a good romance recommendation for teen readers, particularly girls who are coffee lovers or love hanging out/working in a cafe.
If a student read this as an individual read and wanted to create a project for school based off of it. They could take coffee drinks, or a comparable option where people have lots of choices and create their own personality keys about what the choices people make says about them. It would be a fun research project and they could apply the scientific method to test their theory.
Quotes of Note:
"Large nonfat four-shot caffe latte
Cocky sex-deprived butthead guy drink. Expect only the utmost stupidity to come out of his mouth. So-so body, could stand to work out more. Crappy dresser" (p. 3).
"It's getting to the point where I can guess most customers' drinks on sight" (p. 4).
"It's a "you are what you drink" philosophy. So I've been documenting people's drinks--all kinds of people. Young and old, skinny and fat, blue-collar and white-collar. It's become my little project" (pp. 18-19).
"You are our holiday promotion," he says enthusiastically.
"I don't get it," I repeat.
"It's simple. Corporate says I need to do a promotion to bring in more customers over the holiday season, and you, my little Espressologist, are it" (p. 83-84).
Tasty Rating: !!!