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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The Yellow Dinghy Café by Sophie Chenoweth is a touching, gentle, coming-of-age novel set in Australia. Three young women, Jasmine, Michaela, and Cybelle, were high school friends who had just completed their studies at an exclusive Sydney girls’ school and were setting out on the next phase of their lives in the big, wide world. Each from very different backgrounds, they had their own ideas of what the future might hold for them. Cybelle, from a relatively wealthy family, had decided to take a tour of the world before deciding on her future path. She would head first to England and then to Vietnam, where her older sister was an English teacher. Jasmine, wanting to escape the city, had enrolled in a rural university in New South Wales, where she quickly discovers she has much to learn about boys and communal living in general. Haunted by a possible genetic abnormality that she may or may not have, Jasmine feels like she is living under a constant cloud of uncertainty. Michaela, on the other hand, is unsure what her future direction should be and while she tries to figure that out, she takes on a waitressing job at the Yellow Dinghy Café, which is owned by Cybelle’s uncle. All three girls find their first year out of high school to be an eye-opener and a journey of self-discovery as they realize nobody has the perfect life they naively thought they did. Through all of these self-revelations, the girls’ bond and friendship remain intact and as solid as ever.
The Yellow Dinghy Café by Sophie Chenoweth is a pleasant reading journey that reminds us all of those early days when we transitioned from the coddling we received at school to the sometimes harsh realities of the “real world”. I felt the three protagonists were different enough in their perspectives to cover the full gamut of emotional experiences that we are exposed to when we first become adults. That these three unique and, in many ways, different young woman were such firm friends and would remain so despite the challenges each of them faced is always one of the big imponderables of life – what draws certain people together when they are so clearly emotionally different and have such different expectations of life? I particularly enjoyed the story of Jasmine, who was to some extent running away from her feared diagnosis but was clearly a very compassionate and understanding individual. The writing is gentle and the changes in perspective between the three girls were seamless and made for a relaxed and comfortable read. I think the biggest takeaway for me was the idea that each of us is a unique individual with unique talents that, given the opportunity, can flourish and develop to our fullest. The bond of friendship that these three maintained and nurtured despite their different circumstances and personalities was also a highlight for me. This is an enjoyable read that I can definitely recommend.