Title: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
Author: J. Ryan Stradal
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Number of Pages: 310
How I Got It: Netgalley
When Lars Thorvald's wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine--and a dashing sommelier--he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He's determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter--starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva's journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that's a testament to her spirit and resilience.
Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal's startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life--its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.
This book received lots of praise from many of my book blogging friends when it released last summer. I had an ARC hanging around that I just couldn't get to. Then I decided to go through my NetGalley backlist to see if anything caught my attention. I thought "I'll give it a try and see if it catches my attention, if it doesn't do it in the first few pages, I'll move on." Well, based on the fact that I'm writing a review, it is obvious that I read the whole thing. I could probably talk for quite a while about this novel but I will focus on the main points that I loved. First of all, food. Of course I love foodie fiction but this one was different. The food topics and types ranged from beloved childhood favorites to conscious farming and from heirloom tomatoes to county fair bake-offs. The book's central character doesn't overpower the story, she is merely a touchpoint for a variety of other characters' stories. I may be a bit late to the game in regards to reading this release, but I am so glad I didn't miss it and I hope to see more books with this type of tangential storyline in the future.
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***