Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

This is another book from 2015 that I had seen on many 'to-read' lists + on my fellow bookish friends accounts. So when a group of ladies and I started a book club at work this year (!!!!), I threw Kitchens of the Great Midwest into the vote and it was the winner! I didn't know what to expect really; it seemed from the outside like a 'book club read' and pretty quick and kitschy, but saw many reviews stating the opposite (that it had depth, made you think, you know, all those life-altering book cover statements)- so I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised. I unfortunately wasn't super into it, (which is why it has taken me three weeks to 'review' it) but I am more torn if I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't reading it along with 12 other friends and filtering my opinions so obsessively. 

Kitchens of the Great Midwest follows the life of Eva, from birth to mid-career, through the perspective of different people weaved through her life. Each chapter tells a different chunk of time; from her fathers perspective as Eva is a newborn, her cousins perspective as Eva is a middle-schooler, and so on. While this was an interesting concept and kept me reading- I almost feel like it was the downfall; I wanted to know more about specific characters and less about others, and often times I was confused on how the narrator tied into Eva's life. 


“Even though she had an overbite and the shakes, she was six feet tall and beautiful, and not like a statue or a perfume advertisement, but in a realistic way, like how a truck or a pizza is beautiful at the moment you want it most.” 
― J. Ryan StradalKitchens of the Great Midwest


It wasn't all downhill- the book is heavily based around the theme of culinary discovery in the Midwest, which is fun to read about and was a really open platform. There were some epic recipe chapters that go into detail about how make the perfect peanut butter/chocolate bar that I am going to dive into when my group meets. And it WAS neat to jump five years ahead to a different perspective/narrator and see how much had changed in Eva's life without knowing the in-between, that aspect of it was probably my favorite part. 

If you're into really light reads, fiction about food/relationships/the great Midwest, don't want to be heartbroken or stay up for days thinking about a novel, this book is totally for you. While I am slamming it a little too hard- it was an enjoyable read overall. One of my favorite things about joining a book club in general is reading books you would have never picked up on your own, and this totally did the trick! It was quick, cute, light-hearted, and unique.