All in all a disappointment. I was expecting to read a romance/chick lit type book and it was all over the place. The hero in this one (Nate) really sucked. And the heroine (Melanie) wasn’t great either. Other reviewers complained about the constant speech making by everyone involved and I have to agree. Real people do not speak like this. Ballis definitely knows her way around a stove though. The recipes that she included sounded awesome and were honestly the only reason why I gave this one 3 stars.
“Good Enough to Eat” follows former lawyer Melanie who is now a gourmet chef. She cooks healthy food after finally dieting and exercising her way to a healthier weight. Now she’s dealing with being single after her ex-husband leaves her for her former boss (who is heavier than Melanie used to be). Melanie is trying to figure out how to get her life together due to money issues and comes across a younger woman (Nadia) who she ends up employing and living with who has secrets of her own. Melanie meets a new guy (Nate) who honestly is the type of guy that would write into Reddit’s Am I The Asshole (AITA) thread and act as if he did nothing wrong and wonders why women are so emotional.
I initially found Melanie to be pretty interesting, but after a while I got tired of her. I just lost 12 pounds (and counting) and have been exercising about 5 days a week. I somehow have managed to be around normal food and people eating fried things and drinking and have not turned into a self righteous ass. Melanie is obsessed with food and her going on about calories and wanting to eat a vat of mashed potatoes honestly started driving me up the wall. She seems to need a therapist badly and is using her nutritionist, her friends, her sister, and even Nate to be that for her. The character is set up to be constantly second guessing herself. It doesn’t help that she looks down upon other people a lot (see Nadia) and I just didn’t get why anyone acted like she was this really good friend. I have enemies I am on better terms with.
Nate, the love interest, just sucked. He’s an investigator/documentary/director person. Yeah, I am not looking that back up. He starts seeing Melanie and honestly his family sounds better than he is. He’s self-absorbed and judgmental as hell. He and Melanie snark on Nadia and her relationship with her boyfriend. They honestly should work romance wise since they are both kind of nasty at times, but Melanie draws the line when Nate does something that directly affects Nadia. I mean not enough to stop seeing his terrible ass though.
I honestly wish that the book had focused more on Nadia. She’s more mature than Melanie and doesn’t judge people based on outward appearances. Her backstory will break your heart and I wonder if Ballis has ever followed up on her in her subsequent books.
The other secondary characters talk like cliches (see Kai).
The writing could have worked I think if it had focused more on Melanie’s weight loss journey and subsequent single life. I think following her post that just didn’t work since she has a lot of other issues she needs to work through as well. The recipes starting each chapter (almost I think) were really cool. I liked the memories behind things that Melanie was sharing with readers. I eat certain things and they remind me of my mother (spaghetti, lasagna, beef stroganoff, fried chicken, and cake).
The flow doesn’t really work though. I think that Ballis is trying to make the book be about whether Melanie and Nate are ready for the next steps in their relationship, but it’s ultimately about Melanie and what she wants next. It doesn’t follow a typical romance/chick lit plot with the girl meeting boy, having misunderstanding, and then HEA for the two of them.
The book takes place in Chicago (I believe Ballis’s hometown or current hometown at any rate) and I don’t get a really good sense of the city like I have in her other works.
The book ends on July 4th, which I guess was symbolically supposed to be about Melanie’s independence.
I read this book for the Reader’s Choice square and selecting the “Science” square. I think that I did this correctly 🙂 I was tempted to do the “Not My Wheelhouse” square since I think I read pretty much every genre. Maybe I will read a racist author I have avoided for that square such as Lovecraft. I loathe his books.