What would you do if you could travel in time? Either back or forth? If you could go back, who would you want to meet? What if, even going back in time, nothing would change the present or the future? Would you still choose to do it? Had you left things untold, would you go back in time just to have the chance to say these things? These are some of the questions that reading “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” will leave you with.
In a small back alley in Tokyo, a café stands for more than a hundred years, serving tea, coffee or food to the patrons that choose to visit it. In order to enter the shop, you need to descent a few stairs, so it’s not so clearly visible from the outside. However, a few years ago, the café had become very famous because of a special treat it has. It’s customers have the chance to travel back in time, should they want to. But there are a few rules they need to follow in order to do it. The rules are very strict and most people that hear them decide that it isn’t worth it. Not if they cannot change what happened. Not if they cannot move from where they sit. One of the rules is that they need to get back to present time before the coffee gets cold. This is essential, as if they don’t follow this rule, they will suffer the consequences.
The coffee shop is frequented by people that like being there and also from people that want to go back in time. In all cases, the customers make friends with the owners, they share their secrets and their regrets, but they make the final decision on their own. In this book we read about 4 people using the time travel service in the coffee shop. All for their very own different reasons. But we don’t read their stories as one would do in a short stories book. No. They all melt together, since from the very beginning of the book and as the narrative progresses, the reader gets to meet all the characters in the book, all the time travelers and their life, as well as what led them to take the risk to travel in time. So, when they get to that point, the readers has already understood their motives and expects to see what happens.
The author takes the reader through four different reasons one would like to go back in time. The first is to say things that were left unsaid, to try and understand why a lover left, to close an unfinished conversation only to understand that they were never telling everything to each other. The second was in order to get one more glimpse of a loved one before Alzheimer made them a different person. The third was to see a loved one just one more time. And the fourth was to see someone they would never meet. All four reasons where there because of the decisions the time travelers made in the past. Because of their choices. So, one thing I’m going to keep from this book will be that we have to live with the choices we make. We cannot undo them.
On of the reasons I liked this book so much was the narrator. Arina Li has done a wonderful job bringing the characters to life and transferring the atmosphere in the coffee shop to the audiobook listener. I would like to listen more audiobooks narrated by Arina Li.
Thank you to NetGalley & Macmillan UK Audio for an advance copy of this book. The views expressed are my personal and honest opinion.