Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a big-hearted, funny, and class-transcending pleasure. It's also both a structural and empathetic tour de force, stepping across worlds in the American midwest, and demonstrating with an enviable tenderness and ingenuity the tug of war between our freedom to pursue our passions and our obligations to those we love.
From the quite literally burning passions of a lonely eleven-year-old girl with an exceptional palate, to the ethical dilemmas behind a batch of Blue Ribbon Peanut Butter Bars, J. Ryan Stradal writes with a special kind of meticulous tenderness - missing nothing and accepting everything. A superbly gratifying debut
A gorgeous feast that feeds both the senses and the soul
This offbeat debut features many satisfying ingredients, including triumph over adversity, recipes and a warm Midwestern backdrop
Stradal creates something quirky, affecting and delicious
Fun and original
Stradal's delicious debut reveals Eva's sweet, sad, funny self in a series of funny vignettes
An oven-warm yet bittersweet collection of character studies circling the story of Eva Thorvald . . . Hilariously precise in its cultural geography . . . But in spite of its locavorous detail, the novel's plot is driven by a universal truth: that food brings people together
A tender coming-of-age story with a mix of finely rendered pathos and humour . . . Ultimately, Kitchens reveals the strong interplay among food, family and our most cherished memories . . . Stradal suggests that love - or the absence of love - is the most powerful condition of all
Time flew by when we sat down with Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a charming and unusual first novel . . . We were blown away by Stradal's flair for depicting messy emotions and mixed-up families, and delighted by his insightful and funny reflections on foodie culture and class dynamics
A warm and enjoyable read about life, love, food, family . . . and chilli eating contests
This wise and witty tale of immigrant assimilation wholeheartedly embraces a passion for food . . . Laugh-out-loud funny . . . Stradal is so good at evoking the inner lives of his characters, male and female, young and old . . . Stradal has a sharp eye for the evolution of culture and for landscape; his tone is light, always a little askew . . . Midwesterners never forget what things cost, and Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a terrific reminder of what can be wrested from suffering and struggle - not only success, but also considerable irony, a fair amount of wisdom and a decent meal
This lovely, poignant, hilarious book is the best thing I have read this year. Everything about it is original and wonderful . . . The writing is whipcrack smart and it's both powerfully moving and brilliantly satirical, especially about kitchen snobbery. Read it, read it!
Despite a life pockmarked by poverty and other adversities, Eva has an equally outsize heart. A warring mass of desires, talents and imperfections, she's an attractively flawed, completely likable demigoddess . . . Kitchens of the Great Midwest is not only Eva's story but also a gastronomic portrait of a region . . . It's an impressive feat of narrative jujitsu . . . This colorful, character-driven story . . . keeps readers turning the pages too fast to realize just how ingenious they are
Eva Thorvald is the new Olive Kitteridge
Teenagers and foodies (teenage foodies especially), will love this book. It's about Eva, a bullied girl who triumphs over her adversaries to become a legendary chef. This is great in itself, but there's so much more to it than that . . . The story-within-a-story action ranges all over the U.S. and is a celebration of great American food as well as the great American underdog. A tremendous novel that combines powerfully moving moments with hilarious satire, especially about kitchen snobbery