Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fiction that Reads Like Non-Fiction: Whole Latte Life

I don't know what I think of when I think of self-published books, but it certainly isn't this, Whole Latte Life, by writer and blogger, Joanne DeMaio.  She took self-publishing to a whole 'nother level with book quality and marketing--the most amazing parts of which to me (before I read it) were the "webisodes".  Honestly, I'd never seen anything like them and they were far north of brilliant in the way they whetted my appetite for answers to the questions they posed.  You go to lunch with a friend, she gets up to use the restroom and doesn't come back?  Call me nosey (curious sounds better), but I'd like to know why.

The book starts with that mystery and we, like one of its main characters, Rachel, are temporarily uncertain of Sarah Beth's fate.  That question and answer, however, leads to other questions, which leads to still more questions--all of which, thank goodness, are answered, faithfully, by the author.

Joanne DeMaio is a great storyteller and writer.  I'm a huge fan of non-fiction memoir and prefer my fiction to read the same way--to me, this did.  It examines the protagonist's hearts, souls, and lives as honestly and tenderly as if they were her own.  In fact, one of the character's situations was so close to what I felt in a similar situation ten years ago that it was as if I'd written the lines for her in that particular section.  That was just eery on one level, but gave the story authenticity--a quality I have to believe is there in order to continue any book.

"She then looks at her hands and slips off a gold bracelet, curious to see how it would feel to lose a part of herself.  She doesn't fling it into the water, but lets it drop in.

And it's like a floodgate opens, the black water sweeping over it wanting more."

She continues to drop one personal item after another into the same water.  What a tragic and honest demonstration of someone losing themselves.

As a horse-lover, of course I was thrilled to see the equine character, Maggie, get a part.  I know Joanne is not a horse owner, yet there was one scene in the book with the farrier that I had to wonder if I could have written as well.  Sadly, I think not, but it's a testament to how much the author must look out of herself and how in tune she must be to the stories and lives of others.

In my mind, the greatest compliment I can give her is to say her fiction read like non-fiction.  The friends whose lives propel the novel became my friends.  Their stories and the outcomes really touched me.  I'll never forget them, and I hope their choices brought them happiness.  I like to think they did.

I'm sending out a long standing ovation to Joanne DeMaio and her premier novel, A Whole Latte Life, a story very, very well told.  Thanks for sharing it.

Joanne's website with information on how to purchase the novel in paper or e-book editions.

A couple questions for the author if she stops by to comment:

1.) There is a Virginia Woolf quality to your treatment of the sea and the cottage.  Were you influenced at all by her?

2.) How did you learn so much about farriers?


  1. Linda, I can't tell you how much your thoughts mean to me. Your early-reader response validates that I made the right decision with publishing this novel. Actually, I was anxiously awaiting a response from you, hoping you'd connect to it on several levels (including Maggie!) I'm slowly finding that many women are connecting to Sara Beth too. So thank you, so much, for letting me know that you did.

    Now, your questions:

    1. My sole inspiration for every beach and cottage scene in the book comes not from Woolf, but from Point O' Woods on the CT shore. That gem of a beach is truly a part of my life, and so it made its way onto the page, and onto my Acknowledgment Page too. Maybe Woolf and I merely share a same love for a stretch of sand at the sea.

    2. Farriers. When I wrote my first draft of this book, I came across a tiny book in the children's dept of a local library about a mounted police officer. Much of the farrier info came from that, with maybe a little bit of internet facts thrown in. But I've never actually seen a horse being shoed.

    About the Webisodes, those were created solely by one of my daughters as she brought her vision to the book. My question to you is: Now that you read the story, do you feel they accurately portrayed those parts of it?

    Thanks again for your kind words. I too feel that the best fiction is that which doesn't feel like fiction, and is what I set out to write. P.S. Tom makes a guest appearance in Book 2.

  2. Thanks for the review and recommendation. I'm always looking for a good book to read and this one sounds like something I would definitely like.

  3. Joanne--about the webisodes--yes, they did portray it accurately. My favorite, as far as making me want to read the book, was New York Minute--hands down. That would be a fun question to ask your other readers--I'm curious what they'd say.

    I would definitely say you share the same love of the beach as VW, but also your writing style at times--using words as waves and the cottage becoming another character--it gave me the same feeling as when I read her work.

  4. GHM--I'm sure you'll love it. If you have time, check out those webisodes we're talking about. I put a link to them in the blog post. They're very cool.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.