Between the Covers / Shhhh... we're reading.   Photo of reading after bedtime
RSS this blog

Tags

Adult

+ Fiction

+ Nonfiction

Teen

+ Fiction

   Nonfiction

Children

+ Fiction

+ Nonfiction

Author Interviews

Awards

BCPL Reading Challenge

Free Play With BCPL

In the News

New Next Week

Popcorn Reviews With BCPL

   Movies 

   TV Shows 


Kitchens of the Great Midwest

posted by: October 8, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for Kitchens of the Great MidwestWhat happens when quirky characters, unique structure and recipes are combined? You get J. Ryan Stradal’s debut novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. No, it’s not a coffee table book filled with staged photos of luxury Midwest kitchens; rather, it’s the compelling tale of misfit Midwesterner Eva Thorvald, a girl with a “once in a generation palate” who overcomes a tragic childhood to become a nationally renowned top reservationist chef.

Is this a great rags to riches story? Definitely! But it’s Stradal’s uncommon structure that makes this novel outstanding. Nine offbeat Midwesterners in nine separate chapters tell their respective stories. Outcasts in their own lives, each one is connected to Eva. This is a winning move by Stradel. Not only are we presented with Eva’s viewpoint, but we also see how she’s perceived by others and how their actions propelled Eva forward in her career. Eva only speaks to the reader as a middle schooler with a talent for both growing and using habaneros as a weapon. We learn of her early childhood through her father Lars, a good chef but socially awkward man with a passionate hatred for Lutefisk. We discover how she decided to pursue “theme” dinners from Octavia, a twentysomething wife cheating on her husband. Each character is both believable and flawed. They will make you laugh, cringe and reflect, but more importantly, care. You will want to know what happens to them and to Eva. And, as an added bonus, real Midwestern recipes from actual North Dakota Lutheran church members are scattered throughout the story. You may even want to try a few.

 

If you have been searching for an enjoyable, mind-fulfilling read that you do not want to end, you must read Kitchens of the Great Midwest. And like a favorite meal, be prepared to devour it. It is that good!


 
 

Normally I would have not even given a book with such a title a second glance. Thanks for inspiring me to expand my reading list.



* all fields are required. Your email is kept private and will not be shown.

The discussion on this blog is monitored, and inappropriate content will be removed. BCPL reserves the right to delete submissions that contain vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive comments that target or disparage any group or individual. Further, BCPL also reserves the right to delete comments that:

(i) Are spam, or include links to other sites;
(ii) Are unrelated to the library and its mission;
(iii) Advocate illegal activity;
(iv) Promote particular services, products, or political organizations;
(v) Infringe on copyrights or trademarks;
(vi) Contain confidential information.


Revised: November 13, 2015