Oh, Melissa Ford — how you captured the heart and soul of a blogger. It felt like you could have written this book for me. With fresh prose and very likable characters, I’m now standing here before you — proudly — with a copy of Life From Scratch waving above my head. Read it! I’m shouting. Read it.
Rachel Goldman is recently divorced and still smarting from the demise of her 12-year marriage, which was a slow descent into silence. Now living on her own in a rented apartment in her native New York City, Rachel finds herself lonely, listless and frustrated. How could she emerge from the wreckage of being with Adam, a certified workaholic, without even the most basic of culinary skills? How can she stand eating meals out of Styrofoam take-out containers night after night?
In an effort to learn a little more about herself, Rachel quits her graphic design job and dedicates herself to learning to cook while slowly draining her savings account. And after starting a blog, Life From Scratch, she finds that many other people are on a similar quest — or, at least, relate to her experiences. As her blog readership grows and new people — men — enter her life, Rachel has to decide if she’s really ready to let Adam go . . . and if she can ever keep her risotto from burning.
If the flavor of Life From Scratch sounds a bit “Julie & Julia” to you, friends, you’re right: it totally does. I haven’t read Julie Powell’s memoir but have seen the film and, sure, there are resemblances here. Not in an OMG-you-plagiarized-me! way, but in a “I’m figuring out my life in and out of the kitchen” way. And I loved it.
Rachel is such a completely realistic, empathetic character that I truly had to pause and remind myself she wasn’t real. Ford herself is a popular blogger and it certainly read that way. From obsessively checking blog stats to realizing for the first time that we’re not “shouting into the void” — you know, when we get our first comment — Ford completely understands what it means to put your life online. From start to finish, Rachel felt like a friend. Like a blogger you visit daily for the latest recipes and stories of life from a 35-year-old woman ready for a change.
Though slim — only about 200 pages — the book is packed with weighty issues like marriage, love, family, infertility and letting go. Food is a major theme in the book, of course, but Ford doesn’t delve too deep into her cookbooks; learning to cook is merely the device through which Rachel becomes self-sufficient, confident and adventurous. The real issue here is ready or not our heroine is ready to let go of the love she allowed to slip through her fingers . . . and I think the conclusion reached was fantastic.
Basically, I loved this book. It wasn’t without minor issues, but they never hampered my overall enjoyment of the story. Realistic, moving and addictive, Life From Scratch was a novel I truly didn’t want to end. Ford is working on a sequel, I hear, and I’ll be first in line. Pick this one up and lose yourself for a while . . . I certainly did.
4.5 out of 5!