Spotlight Review: THE MAGIC OF LEMON DROP PIE by Rachel Linden

From the publisher:

An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.

Lolly Blanchard’s life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she’s lost.

As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift—three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present.

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This is an engaging story with a touch of magic realism that works really well here. Lolly is a good and dutiful daughter. The eldest of two girls with several years between them, she takes family responsibility seriously. When her mother dies unexpectedly, she feels compelled to take her mother’s place in the family business, a Seattle diner. She wants to be there for her devastated father and to try and mother her little sister as best as she can.

Lolly and Rory met as kids and became best friends, as did their mothers. As they grew up, that friendship turned into something much deeper. They were engaged to be married when Lolly lost her mother. Rory was a brilliant student who had dreams of becoming a sports medicine doctor for as long as he could remember. When he is offered a residency at Johns Hopkins, he is torn and doesn’t know how to tell Lolly. She ends things between them and breaks both their hearts in the process.

Several years later, Lolly’s middle school diary makes an appearance, and she sees the list of goals she had set for herself. She realizes she hasn’t completed anything she wanted to do in her life. The diner is barely hanging on by a thread, but she feels trapped there. Rory is married, has a son, and is living in Tampa, lost to her forever. Despondent, she talks to her great aunt, whose advice is to “follow her bliss.” Then her aunt gives her three lemon drop candies and tells her they are very special. When she goes to bed, she should eat one of the candies and wish to look at whatever she thinks she’s missed out on, which will give her a glimpse of the life she could have had for one day, then she will return to this life.

Looking at what might have been is educational yet devastating, but so is her present. Lolly is determined to live her best life and perhaps learn what her bliss is by eating the candy and seeing what she’s missed. “What if” can be two dangerous words. When I couldn’t possibly see a way forward for her, she finds one and that leads to her happily ever after.

This was such a compelling and emotional story. I don’t like paranormal romances (vampires and whatnot) but I enjoy a touch of magic. This is an unputdownable magical story, and I loved it.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE MAGIC OF LEMON DROP PIE by Rachel Linden. Berkley (August 2, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593440193. 352p.

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