Staff Review: "Kitchens of the Midwest"
Eva Thorvald is only a few months old when she loses both of her parents, Lars and Cynthia, to vastly different circumstances. From there, the book follows Eva's life from infancy through her mid-twenties, skipping anywhere from a few months to several years between chapters. Instead of having Eva tell us her own story, her life is framed through the eyes of others, with each chapter featuring a different narrator. These narrators are often people who are tangentially linked to Eva in some way or another, such as her older cousin Braque, a hard-headed college student; Eva's boyfriend's brother Jordy, an irresponsible twenty-something grappling with a terminally-ill mother; and Pat, a woman well-known at her Lutheran church for her award-winning dessert bars. With each passing chapter, the reader is able to piece together the progression of Eva's life and see how the people in it shaped her. The great love of Eva's life is food, with Midwest staples like walleye, venison and carrot cake having such a large presence in the book that Stradal includes the occasional recipe in the book. Stradal's charming, almost magical writing, along with his well thought-out characters, make "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" a fun read and a quirky look into Midwest living.