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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi | Thoughts

     Published on: 2015   ||   Format: ebook   ||   Location: Japan

One line review: In a magical underground cafe, patrons visit to have coffee or a snack, to meet friends, or occasionally to travel back in time to visit someone from the past.

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You can’t meet people who haven’t visited this café. The present cannot change. There is only one seat that takes you to the past, and you cannot move from it. Then, there is the time limit.


For whatever reason, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is everywhere now. And for good reason. It has a splendid premise, it is a short and fast read, and every story (yes, this is a four-story collection with the same characters) dives right in that you are not waiting too long to unravel the mystery here. 

The cafe, Funiculi Funicula, has been featured in several news stories already so it isn't exactly a well-kept secret. Patrons are not necessarily rushing into the door for a chance to travel through time. Instead, many have asked what is the point of being able to travel in time if you cannot change the present. And that is one of the disclaimers that every wannabe time traveler is told while getting the introduction to the do's and don'ts. And that's not all. They have to come back before the coffee gets cold, they can only visit people who have been to the cafe, they cannot leave the chair that takes them to the past, and so on. Still, there are several, spurred by curiosity or grief, who want to make a trip.

The four interconnected stories in this book follow the same characters and the circumstances which compel them to want to travel to the past. There's the woman whose lover decides to end their relationship and leave the country. Overwhelmed by the grief of losing him, she wants to go back and redo the breakup. Even if the guy was still going to leave, at least she can feel less bad about it if she could understand where it is coming from. Another woman wants to meet her husband before he starts getting changed by Alzheimer's disease. The shock of being forgotten by him has caused her to revisit the last few years. Through these stories, we meet many other characters, not all of whom take the chair but are all part of the air of intrigue in the cafe. 

Although it took me a while to get to this book, I'm glad I did. I did take much longer to finish it than it should have, mainly because some of the themes begin to feel repetitive. Things take a very dire and opposite direction at the end, which made for an interesting and bittersweet way to finish the book. I liked the way the book addressed the question of why people are choosing to go to the past when they cannot change anything. I can't imagine everyone would have had the same impact but it was a happy sentiment that makes it worthwhile. 

Keeping in mind that you cannot change the past or the present, is there anyone you would want to meet in the past?