Book Review | Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Author : Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Translator: Geoffrey Trousselot

Published on : September 19, 2019
Publisher : Picador
Genre : Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Sci-Fi
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What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold…

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

“No matter what difficulties people face, they will always have the strength to overcome them. It just takes heart.”

There’s a special and famous café in Tokyo called Funiculi Funicula that offers its patrons a chance to time travel but there are strict rules to follow. Two of them are your actions while in the past will not change the present and you must return to the present before the coffee gets cold. The book has four stories narrated by four different characters whose lives are interconnected.

We have a businesswoman who wants to make things right with her boyfriend before he leaves, a nurse who wants to meet her husband before he forgets her because of his Dementia, a woman who wants to see her little sister and apologize for avoiding her, and lastly, a pregnant woman with a weak heart who travels to the future to see if her unborn child has survived. I liked all the stories except the first one. The second and last made me cry.

I have read an article that this book is initially written as a theater play script which probably explains the short and direct style of writing. You either like it or hate it. Luckily for me, I enjoyed it. It’s full of detailed descriptions which make it a delightful read, in my opinion. I also thought that the characters are all intriguing and unique in their own ways. I loved the setting and the concept of the time travel in this book. I thought it was very unique.

I also thought that if I’ll get to visit this cafe and travel back in time, I’ll probably can’t make it back to the present because I always let my coffee gets cold before drinking it. haha

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is such a bittersweet and thought-provoking read. It is a reminder to seize the moment. To talk to your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you. There’s a second book and i’ll definitely read it.

My Rating : ★★★★☆

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