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Jamie Zerndt
The Roadrunner Cafe
Jamie Zerndt, author
One year after his father's suicide, Carson Long feels cheated. He hates his father for leaving him and his sister, Georgie, alone. He hates him for turning his mother into a young widow who hasn't left the house in months. And he hates his father for leaving behind his stupid tree. Four of them are planted outside the restaurant, one for each family member. That is until Carson's mother, no longer able to stand the sight of the tree, hires a local landscaper to remove it in the middle of the night. This seemingly unremarkable act soon sets in motion of series of events in the small Colorado ski town that leaves more than just young Carson groping in the dark for answers. The Roadrunner Café is a unique novel told from multiple points of view about loss and the lengths some will go to heal the human heart. Ultimately, it is a story about what it takes to go on living even when everything in the world might be telling us it isn't possible to.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10


Zerndt’s jewel-like tale of a family grieving after the father’s suicide strikes every note right. Switching between different characters’ viewpoints, the novel becomes a whole greater than the sum of its parts, with metaphors and images echoing throughout storylines and characters’ interior lives. Zerndt manages not to cross the line into sentimentality or overemphasize symbols more than once or twice, quite a feat in a novel about grief, especially involving children. With a strong sense of place, excellent character development, and a fluid, compact plot, Zerndt’s novel deserves rich praise and many readers.

Date Submitted: August 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews

"Every character has his or her particular preoccupations and Zerndt handles them with aplomb, using his large cast to shine varied lights on the themes of family, grieving, and hope after loss."