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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guest Author Mary Pat Hyland

Author info: Mary Pat Hyland is an award-winning, former newspaper journalist who writes mainstream novels and short stories set in upstate New York. "The Terminal Diner" is her fourth novel. Previous works include the Maeve Kenny series-"The Cyber Miracles" and "A Sudden Gift of Fate"- and a St. Patrick's Day riff on Dante's "Inferno" called "3/17". She has since published her fifth novel, "A Wisdom of Owls"--the third book in the Maeve Kenny series. Her work is inspired by authors such as Eudora Welty, Anne Tyler, John Irving and Flannery O'Connor. Hyland's interests
include the Irish language, gardening and cooking (yes, that includes

"Men like pie." Who would know the truth behind those words better than Elaina Brady's mother Maria? Months after she showed her teenage daughter how to bake perfect pie and hours after offering that culinary wisdom, Maria abandons Elaina, her sister Dee Dee and their father Walt. All it took was a lingering, lusty look from a Missoula trucker who stopped by their family's diner and ordered a slice of lemon meringue. Maria hitches a ride west with him, and with that impulsive decision, sixteen-year-old Elaina loses her mother and gains a job baking pies at the diner.
A decade after Maria's departure, Elaina is still working at The Terminal Diner, just around the bend from an upstate New York airport. Her humdrum life is defined by pie-baking routine. Elaina realizes painfully that all she still knows about the opposite sex is summed up in the three last words her mother spoke to her. Then one deceivingly beautiful morning in September 2001, horrifying acts committed by terrorists a hundred miles away upset her world, bringing new influences into her life and inspiring her to be like her mother-impulsive. Will Elaina survive the consequences of her actions?
This suspenseful story is the fourth novel by Amazon Top 100 bestselling author Mary Pat Hyland.

Mary Pat Hyland tells me she baked and photographed the pie on the cover. The cherries were picked in an orchard mentioned in the story (under a pseudonym).

My "Always Honest" Review of The Terminal Diner

I love it when a book so well describes what the characters are eating that I get hungry and have to fix myself whatever it is they are chowing down on.  And it wasn’t even the luscious pie pictured on the front cover that got to me.  No, it was the diner comfort foods Elaina’s dad cooked up that drove my imagination into salivating mode.  Mmmm...meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  And the food Elaina cooked at home like creamed chipped beef over “freedom” fries - man, I just had to have some.  Elaina even described how she made the roux for the chipped beef, and I wasn’t able to quiet my brain until I walked to the store and got some Stouffer’s creamed chipped beef. 

Truth is, I’m still not over the imagery of those enticing all-American meals at the Terminal Diner.  As I write this review several weeks after finishing the book, there sits in my fridge the leftover meatloaf from tonight’s supper.  Funny how a book can do that to ya.  Gone with the Wind had me drinking coffee every time Scarlett’s maid brought her a silver pot of hot java.  Angela’s Ashes had me making cups of tea with milk and sugar every other chapter.  What can I say?   My own type of 3-D enjoyment.  

Not that the hankering for comfort foods is the only residual left in my brain after reading this great story. Mary Pat Hyland had no trouble getting Elaina's pain and boredom across to me – her frustration at never getting to do the exciting things others did with their lives, her fantasy of just taking off like her mother had, and then her guilt at leaving her poor lonely dad alone at the diner if she ever fulfilled her fantasy.  The father’s pain was palpable whenever he thought about the way his wife had just run off and left him with two girls to raise.  It was real. I felt it to my soul. I liked that. 

The book blurb promises suspense, and the story delivers handsomely on that account.  I honestly read the book in one afternoon – couldn’t get away from it, even to go to the store for the aforementioned chipped beef and fries.  The 9/11 horror was treated respectfully and its inclusion in this family diner story added to my empathy with reactions in the neighborhoods outlying New York City.  You feel it.  You are there with the community as the tragedy unfolds. Ms. Highland’s writing skill puts it right in your virtual experience bank.  I even had to pull out a twenty dollar bill to check if what the customers in the Terminal Diner were saying about it was true.  Had to look up on-line how to fold it just right – yep! – there it was.  Amazing!  Don’t know how I missed that information back in ’01.

I won’t spoil the story for you by telling you too much.  The characters almost breathe.  Altogether a great read.  I recommend this book.



links: Author's website: http://marypathyland.com