Laura Beckman's comfortable suburban life would be perfect but for her daughter. Four years earlier, Brooke abandoned her husband and her own young daughter to run off with a musician. Now back home with her tail between her legs, Brooke's self-loathing boils over in the face of her mother's unrelenting condemnation.
Laura's world is turned upside down after witnessing the long, painful death of her husband. In the search for a better version of herself, she creates the Chocolate Shop which grants terminally ill patients one last wish (e.g returning to the Rockette stage, having sex one last time, even skydiving). Laura then lovingly helps her clients slip away to a peaceful death. Laura must dodge the police who suspect she's committing second-degree murder, and an ex-wife of a client consumed with collecting on an insurance policy. Her relationship with her daughter flips as Brooke becomes the one doing the condemning: "I may have made many mistakes in my life but there's one thing I can say. I never murdered anybody."
As Laura comes to grips with the ethical, moral, and legal dimensions of what she's doing, she worries that her strained relationship with her daughter will never be repaired and wonders whether she can ever find love again. She meets Arlo Massey--brash, flmboyant, someone who couldn't care less about what other people think--the complete opposite of the always appropriate Laura Beckman. Arlo disrupts Laura's already tumultuous life. She finds him despicable.
And yet . . .
"Hypnotically compelling, evocative, and thought-provoking . . . Highly recommend." Midwest Book Review
"The Chocolate Shop is a sterling effort that turns the minutia of every day life into fodder for exceptional storytelling. J. J. Spring's debut effort serves up a wondrous mother-daughter tale, rife with the kind of familial conflicts that hit all too close to home, dramatized on a sprawling, angst-riddled emotional landscape. Culled from the school of Alice Hoffman and Judith Guest, The Chocolate Shop makes the mundane feel exceptional and turns every day life into a stage where the performers are constantly tripping over their own lines. Heartfelt as well as hard-hitting, this tale pulls no punches in stitching a tapestry as passionate as it is painful." Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of the Murder She Wrote series
"Well-drawn characters, an interesting read." Kirkus Book Review