Heartbreak Cafe 1 by Janet Quin-Harkin – Book Review

Heartbreak Cafe 1 by Janet Quin-Harkin – Book Review

Heartbreak Cafe 1 by Janet Quin Harkin

Heartbreak Cafe 1
No Experience Required

Author – Janet Quin-Harkin
Publisher – Ellfie Books
Pages – 224
Re-released – 11th January 2021
ISBN-13 – 978-0992933098
Format – ebook, paperback
Rating – 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
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It’s 1989. Life’s easy for DEBORAH LESLEY: she’s up-market, drives her own flash car to school, and looks pretty good too. She’s never had a job, either; but now her parents have split up, and she needs the money.

JOE GARBARINI is cool. He likes motorbikes, girls, and fun. He doesn’t have time for much — he’s running Heartbreak Café when he’s not at school.

The Heartbreak Café is a noisy hangout on the north Californian coast. Joe’s worked there for years, and knows what it takes. He’s sure Debbie won’t last a month — but Debbie’s determined to put up with his wisecracks and prove him wrong.

Debbie, Joe and the rest of the gang are all at the Heartbreak Café. Meet them in this sparkling series from bestselling author Janet Quin-Harkin.

Originally Published in 1989.

Review by Stacey

Heartbreak Cafe is the story of upper-class Deborah Lesley (Debbie) whose parents have recently separated. Her father has decided he wants to become a writer and has given up his job in the city, whilst her mum who never needed to work before is having trouble finding a job and so Debbie doesn’t have the financial security she is used to.

After an argument with her mother about the insurance for her car, that she either needs to pay for herself or get rid of it, Debbie goes off in a huff and ends up in the wrong place she set out for, but comes across a ‘staff wanted’ poster in the ‘Heartbreak Cafe’ where all the rockers and surfer dudes hang out. She decides to apply. How hard can working in a cafe really be?

The book was originally written and released in the 80s and so for those that lived through this period, you will find plenty of references to get nostalgic about. Debbie starts off a snotty, up-her-self young woman who isn’t used to having to do any kind of manual work or worrying about where her next dollar is coming from as mummy and daddy always paid her way. Now she is getting a look at what life is really like.

I can’t say I particularly liked Debbie in the beginning and whilst she wasn’t a loveable character by the end, I had warmed to her slightly. Cafe manager Joe Garbarini is the polar opposite to Debbie in that he is used to having to work hard and makes every cent count. He runs the restaurant which is owned by his Grandfather and also is still at school. He and Debbie are at loggerheads for most of the book as he doesn’t think she is waitress material.

The story is quite short and mainly revolves around Debbie’s life, partly at home but mainly at the café. Not a great deal happens and so it is an easy read. The book is set in California and the setting has been perfectly written and you can visualise the beach and the sun beaming down.

It is a sweet teenage book with mainly likeable characters, a wonderful setting with some gorgeous food that will make your mouth water, and a basic no-frills plot. This is the first in a six-part series. Whilst I enjoyed the book I’m not sure I would want to read any more from the series as I prefer books that have lots happening within them and a twist or two, but for some light-heart reading, this is perfect.

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Author Info

Janet Quin-Harkin Heartbreak Cafe

Janet Quin-Harkin is a pseudonym of Rhys Bowen.

Rhys turned to writing children’s books under her married name, Janet Quin-Harkin. Her first picture book was an immediate success and won several awards. More picture books followed, then her agent asked her to write a book for young adults. This was a turning point in Rhys’s career. Her first young adult novel was an instant hit. By her third she was selling half a million copies. Many more popular YA novels followed until Rhys decided she had said all she wanted to say about teenage love and angst, and she turned her real love—mysteries.

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What did you think of ‘Heartbreak Cafe 1’? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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10 Responses

  1. Tasha says:

    Stacey, I enjoyed your review and the synopsis and the review have me really wanting this book.

  2. DJ Sakata says:

    Rhys Bowen seems to be a busy scribe!

  3. Sounds like this would be a nice, nostalgic read!

  4. This looks like so much fun! My kind of book.

  5. Finitha Jose says:

    Love that cover. The story sounds perfect for work nights

  6. Thank you Tasha, I hope that you choose to read the book as it was a good read.

  7. She certainly does. Lots of books in the series.

  8. Thank you Karen. It is certainly a good nostalgic read.

  9. Thank you Kate, it is a lot of fun, I think you would enjoy it a lot.

  10. Thank you Finitha, Good to hear you like the look of Heartbreak cafe.