I feel like I shouldn’t have liked this book — the writing was mediocre, the plot a bit contrived — but something about it was charming enough that I stayed hooked until the end.
“Change works both ways. You must accept those moments, experience them, and let them go. Because if you allow yourself to get stuck in that minute, nothing will ever change.”
Billie Breslin used to love to cook, but something in her past (which you will figure out very quickly but won’t be revealed into about 3/4 of the way through the novel) now gives her panic attacks when she enters a kitchen. She still loves food, and loves to write, so she gets a job as an assistant at a food-focused magazine in New York City. She’s hoping to work her way up to writer, but in the meantime she helps the boss and runs errands — most of which put her in contact with kooky characters that love to discuss her palate. She’s just discovered a wonderful secret in the library of the magazine when the whole production gets shut down, and Billie’s forced to face her future and decide what her next step must be.
The secret in the library is a series of letters written to a chef who supposedly wrote for the magazine in the 1940s. The writer, a young girl named Lulu, pours her heart and soul into these letters, alternating stories about her father — away fighting the war — with requests for ways to spice up their rations at home. The letters continue for years, but the librarian who stored them all created this insanely stupid filing system in which he stored them in random file folders with clues on cards in the catalog. It’s so dumb and so unnecessary, but I still wanted to find out what happened to Lulu so I stuck with it.
Again, I really shouldn’t have liked this one. The main character is one of these girls who just needs a pair of contact lenses (seriously, like eight people tell her this) and a new haircut and she’ll be gorgeous. Oh, and she has this magical palate but she refuses to cook so she’s mysterious. And the library thing was so, so dumb. But I got wrapped up in the food and the city, and the minor characters (Sal the cheese guy!) and ending up flying through it. It’s dumb, but sweet-dumb. And it’ll make you hungry for cheese.