Something about this book just did not connect, and I’m really torn about whether it’s me or the author who’s the issue. Mele Hart is a single mom in San Francisco whose boyfriend/baby’s father turned out to be already engaged (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s on the blurb). She’s part of a playgroup with a few other moms and one dad. People get assigned to small groups (is this a thing? The closest thing I’ve heard of is MOPS) by a larger organization, which also has a forum and is now hosting a cookbook competition, which Mele decides to enter. She solicits each of her playgroup friends to tell her extremely personal stories about their lives, which she’ll then use to inspire recipes for the cookbook. It skims over whether any of these people would feel uncomfortable with this, since most of their stories are like, really deep personal stuff. They all just go for it. There’s no chit chat amongst the group about it at all. They just all tell her their stories.
As far as the stories, I think there were about 5? The way they’re tied into their corresponding recipes was legitimately fun and unique, but not one of these stories about people my age parenting kids my kid’s age resonated with me at all. I am literally the exact target demographic for this kind of book. I love the “at first they’re just an archetype but then we go deeper” thing. I relate a a few different “mom types” and know many others, so I’d love a moving yet funny skewering of parent culture. And yet. This book just frustrated me. The parents were either mind blowingly dumb and oblivious – not in the sense that they don’t see the moral to their own story, but like they can’t figure out how drive-thrus work at all – that every single little vignette was mystifying in a different way.
Like why do we never deal with how wildly inappropriate Henry and Kate’s conversation in front of the boys was? Annie’s whole issue is solved by finding a hipster babysitter? Did anyone ever eat the brownies? What? Georgia, are you kidding me? Is Barrett’s husband supposed to be a clueless couch potato or her seeing eye dog?
There were so many jokes that didn’t even begin to land. So many redemptive moments that absolutely did not work. For a book that is 98% characterization and 2% plot, I expected so much more actual character development. I was going to give this 2 or 3 stars but now that I really think about it, I hated this book.