Fantastic review of SHARI LANE's TWO OVER EASY ALL DAY LONG by Emily Quinn

“It’s funny how life just keeps going.”

I had absolutely no idea what to expect with this one, but I feel so incredibly happy to have experienced it. What a ride! A beautifully written book with an exciting and memorable plot. I’m so happy to be sharing my review for Two Over Easy All Day Long!

About the book

When the president of a toy company, guilty of a tragic negligence, is sentenced to a year of minimum-wage work in an Oregon diner, he loses his familiar Manhattan privileges. But Giles Gibson, now “Tony,” gradually learns to appreciate the tangles and complexities of “ordinary” lives, and those who somehow manage to keep on going with compassion and wit.

The diner’s (secretly kindhearted) boss has other secrets too, as does the curmudgeonly cook. (He’d gone AWOL from Vietnam half a century earlier.) Much of the novel is set in Sunnyside Up, the diner where staff and customers mingle. There’s a drug ring just outside town, headed by the ex-sheriff, a lavender farm whose workers tend to be undocumented, a gay couple who aren’t quite in or out of the closet…. Each character is an individual, created uniquely by Shari Lane’s colors, textures, language, subtle symbols, and deep sense of balance.

The beginning

I felt utterly spoilt reading this book from the start – what a beautiful tone of voice Shari has! The first thing I noticed was how informative her writing was, but at the same time, it was incredibly easy to digest and it really does pull you in. We instantly learn so much from the first couple of chapters, and we’re introduced to Giles, aka, Tony, who was given one year of community service as a result of a tragic accident from a toy sold in his store. It was a powerful opening and it filled me with all sorts of feelings straight away. As part of his sentence, Tony was to work at Sunnyside Up, a diner in Oregon, and it’s here where we’re introduced to a number of new characters who work and dine here. We see how Tony’s life changes from being the wealthy, successful president of ABC Toys, to being someone working in a diner, living in a motel with no one and nothing around for company. We share his loneliness, his yearning for home, his sense of unbalance. It’s all brilliantly written, and that was just the start.

“You will go where you are nobody, nobody except the man who killed a child because your profit margin was worth more than her safety.”

I enjoyed following Tony as he worked his shifts in the diner, getting to know his new colleagues as well as those regular diners. What I enjoyed even more was how each of these characters had such strong personalities and traits. I felt that the book was very character driven with a simple but engaging plot, and even though it wasn’t overly complex, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t invested. In fact, once there’s word of a body being discovered and a private investigator snooping around, focusing on Tony, things became a whole lot more interesting! There are a lot of characters, but it didn’t seem difficult to follow. The author writes their stories with ease and there’s a real nice sense of community among them all. These characters work together and become friends, and Tony’s vastly different lifestyle didn’t seem so bad after a while. I was intrigued to find out just what Tony would get involved in, and how his year away from the comfort of his home and his beloved wife would change him as a person.

The middle

The hunt was on to find out exactly what happened to Sam, the former Sheriff’s son, and when a threatening note is posted under Tony’s door telling him to back off (or else), I became very suspicious; of all the characters we’d met so far, who was hiding a secret? That is, aside from Tony’s secret, which is eventually uncovered. It felt such an emotional time for these characters; being reminded of the past and the horrors that unfolded, and I did wonder if Tony would ever be truly accepted here after what he’d done. He has a tough time; not only is he physically attacked, but his long distance relationship with this wife was changing. The way the author explores this through their phone calls was truly magnificent. The book is very much a mix of genres and styles, all working seamlessly together to create something original and compelling. Scenes effortlessly stick with you and I was surprised how my opinions on certain characters changed over time.

“Just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you’re special. And just because we’re poor, doesn’t mean we have no power.”

By this point, I really liked Luis. Despite being a tough private investigator on the surface, I felt that underneath it all, he had empathy and a bit of a soft spot for the Sunnyside Up team. He knew they were genuine people and could see things from their own perspectives. After a big conversation to get the facts straight and make sure they were all on the same page, (which left Tony vulnerable having to explain exactly how he found himself in Motte and Bailey) I felt really optimistic about where things were heading. Not only did Luis spare them all from being arrested (when he probably should have, and would have if it was anyone else admitting they knew more than they should about Sam’s disappearance) but I felt his relationship with Tony, his unexpected desire to protect him, was such a wonderful piece of character development when we compare this to the Luis we met at the start of the book. I just love it when characters and their stories are perfectly developed (can you tell?!) and this book is such a great example.

The end

There was so much expected emotion packed into the ending chapters which was so delicately yet powerfully written. From Tony facing his fears, accepting the truth and rebuilding the confidence he once had, to other characters finding love, freedom, acceptance and redemption, there was so much growth and food for thought. You just can’t help but feel better about life when you read it, which is what made this book really stick with me. The author has completely perfected her own way of getting into a reader’s mind and leaving a lasting impression. We’re always learning new things about these characters (granted, some of it is gossip) and I loved this consistent stream of information which made them so memorable. Tony’s relationship with his wife was still in uncertain territory, but I hoped that her making the trip to Motte and Bailey and them spending some time with one another would reignite something.

“And that’s what it came down to, Tony thought. Nobody could promise them anything about the future. Ever.”

Tony’s bad luck wasn’t quite finished with him yet. He faces another unexpected blow which leaves him wondering if he’ll even have a future to live. I thought this part of the book was the most nail biting part, but it seemed to absolutely fly by. I would have loved this section to have been explored a little bit deeper, but I did love the outcome and effect it had on others. Knowing other people cared about him was everything, and we finish the book on a high. It was a heart wrenching finale which left me smiling and hopeful. And of course, being able to think about the futures of these characters I’d grown to love so much was just the icing on the cake. A real clever and enjoyable read that I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending!

Overall thoughts

Two Over Easy All Day Long is a story of finding meaning in the little things. It’s a story of responsibility, redemption, and resilience. Of friendship and hope. In fact, there is so much packed into this story that it’s pretty hard to define in a single sentence, and for that reason, I fell in love with it. These characters are so full of life and personality that you’ll find it hard not to consider them friends afterwards; you’ll be welcomed into their community with open arms.

The author’s writing style was beautiful, fun and consistently engaging. It felt such a joy joining these characters in so many unexpected scenarios. The mix of genres really worked well, and I found myself laughing one minute and tearing up the next. A really powerful journey of growth and acceptance, with a few laughs thrown in. It really is a hidden gem!

Two Over Easy All Day Long is out now! You can grab a copy from Amazon. Make sure you’re following author Shari Lane over on Instagram for more updates!

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