PUBLISHED: 5:00 PM on Tuesday, August 1, 2006
'The Owl & Moon Cafe' for mothers, daughters

Every daughter - if she's honest with herself - will admit that her mother is just a wee bit nutty.

We all have our mother stories, the ones that make us roll our eyes and laugh. Yep, much as we love them, we try to not to be exactly like our moms.

So how much of this "like mother, like daughter" stuff is true? Find out in the new novel "The Owl & Moon Café" by Jo-Ann Mapson, who teaches at the University of Alaska and lives in Anchorage.

Years ago, when Gammy's husband Charlie died, Gammy opened the Owl & Moon Café a few blocks from the Monterey coast, in the little town of Pacific Grove, Calif.

Even when it swelled with tourists, everybody knew everybody else in town, and everybody knew that the best croissants were made and the best breakfasts were served at the little place owned by the Moon women.

Gammy started the café back when Allegra was a small child. Allegra has been running things for the past few years; practically since the day she came home, 16 and pregnant with Mariah.

Now Mariah has lost her teaching job, and the café is the only place she thinks to go. Waitressing at the café will pay the bills until something else comes along. The condo can go. So can the expensive car payments. But 12-year-old Lindsay's tuition at private school is one thing that must be paid.

When Mariah and Lindsay move into the apartment above the café with Allegra and Gammy, rocky relationships get more strained. Mariah is tooserious and hates the lemons that life has handed her. Lindsay, who is a scientific genius, is lonely at school and quite unpopular. Gammy is judgmental and curmudgeonly. Allegra, a former hippie and free spirit, refuses to reveal the name of her daughter's father, a lapse that makes Mariah angry.

But everything changes when Allegra faints behind the counter of the café one afternoon. The doctors diagnose leukemia, and Allegra faces the fight of her life.

Can four generations of Moon women break the "curse" and finally find forgiveness for themselves and one another?

Take a look at the calendar. There's still plenty of summer left, which means you've still got time to curl up on the deck, sit in the park, or grab lunch al fresco and taste this wonderful little novel.

Author Jo-Ann Mapson has cooked up four vivid generations of women who struggle with who they are and the legacies their mothers left them, and I'm betting almost all daughters will see at least a morsel of their own mother-daughter relationship in this book. While I won't tell you how it ends, I will say that it doesn't finish up in the way that I initially thought it might. This, of course, doesn't mean you should put away the box of tissues.

If you're a mother with a daughter or a daughter with a mother, read this book and share it with one another. "The Owl & Moon Café" is a book you'll both want to sink your teeth into.