Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
By J. Ryan Stradal
(Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780525429142, July 28, 2015, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Food has a way of bringing people together but in this novel, not only do they come together, but they continually evolve to discover who they really are.

The Rest of It:

Lars Thorvald, a chef, spends his days consumed with the beauty of the bounty before him. His wife Cynthia, an aspiring sommelier, appears to be his perfect match, but when their daughter Eva is born, Cynthia realizes that motherhood is not for her and abandons both her husband and infant daughter to pursue a life elsewhere.

This was a wonderful read. Many have said that it reads like a collection of short stories but I didn’t get that feeling at all. Each chapter is based on an ingredient that becomes very important at the end of the novel, but it lends a certain mystery to the story as new characters are introduced and the pieces begin to come together.

If you are a foodie, you will enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you will enjoy this book because it’s smart and the characters are a little quirky and flawed but they all meld together to tell a really good story.

It’s about family and friends and really, the pursuit of happiness and whatever your definition of happiness may be.

This is a debut novel for Stradal but you’d never know it while reading it. It’s a delightful read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Make sure you check out these additional resources:

Fun Resources for your Book Club!

Online Book Club Kit (recipes, wine pairings, playlists!)
Q & A with J. Ryan Stradal

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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21 thoughts on “Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest”

  1. I’m wondering if there are going to be readers who hate the woman for abandoning her child. I read a book that was gritty and awesome–and all about a mom pregnant with her and her husband’s 3rd child. She freaks out and runs away. It’s called Nine Months by Paula Bomer.

    1. I’ll admit, she was not my favorite person when she did that, but as the story went on, I could see how she was completely overwhelmed by it.
      It angered me but she had a serious revulsion to motherhood and to me, hanging around just to play the role of mom would have been much worse.

      But yes, I bet there will be people who find it unforgivable.

    1. This is your kind of book. Good food talk and the link I included in the review has some good recipes including wine pairings!

  2. It might be my own lack of awareness, but just recently I seem to come across a lot of novels centered on food, and especially on pastries or cakes. For me is kind of dangerous to read them, as I get these terrible cravings and I always end up making stuff 🙂 My boys, needless to say, encourage my peculiarity – since it leads to pie and cakes! Lovely review, Ti ❤

    1. I am gluten free due to allergy so I literally drool when I read books like this one. GF food has come a long, long way but I stillcan get a decent bagel when I want one. 

  3. I have been hearing such great things about this one. I’ll admit that foodie books tend to leave me a little meh, but seriously, I can’t ignore everyone raving about it!

    1. Very tragic and would have been horribly depressing had Eva not had such a positive outlook on life in general. I mean, we don’t really get to know Eva through Eva but from her friends, we get enough info that she is happy. And that makes it less tragic. 

  4. This one has been on my radar for a while but I wanted to check out a few reviews before I checked it out. Love the structure of the book – how each chapter focuses on a different ingredient.

    1. It was great. A foodie book without it being ALL about food and the liked how the chapters connected together. Plus, it’s such a beautiful cover. Mine was embossed a tiny bit. Gorgeous.

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