Comic Solutions

Book Review–Relish

Relish:  My Life in the Kitchen
Lucy Knisley
April 2013

Lucy Knisley is the daughter of a chef/caterer and a gourmet foodie.  So unsurprisingly she also loves food and equates many of her memories growing up with it.  In this thoughtful and funny memoir, Lucy shares with readers key moments in her life — her parents divorce, her moving to the countryside, trips out of the country — and how food framed each moment of this journey.  We see how a trip to Italy is influenced, not by Italian cooking, but by eating a local McDonald’s that brought the comforts of home.  And we learn how even though her parents are separated that home cooked meals prepared by Lucy’s mother can bring them together once again.  Through many meals and snacks, Lucy shares with us her memories of growing up and the unique experiences she has.  Each chapter concludes with an illustrated recipe that ties into the just completed chapter, daring us to sample some of the adventures.

Like many people, I was first introduced to Lucy Knisley through her travelogue French Milk and I was quickly enthralled.  Her simple, yet evocative, line drawings created an entertaining story that made me feel like I was sitting with a good friend, sharing a meal, and listening to their adventures.  Since that time I’ve eagerly kept up with Lucy’s work and career and she has quickly become one of my all time favorite artists and storytellers.  And her latest work of course is no exception.

What I love best about this story, is not only that Lucy shares her journey and her story with us, but I find it easy to relate to her work.  I know that sounds strange because I’m not a foodie and I’m not female, but I can honestly say that I can look at her work and find some trace of myself in it.  Mainly because Lucy doesn’t try to hide those unflattering moments that so many of us wish we could hide, such as being a brat and rebellious towards are parents.  Lucy instead embraces it and share it with us in such a way that we can relate to it and remember our own experiences growing up.  And I stress that point because some authors seemingly want nothing more than pity or take such a hard look at themselves they no longer seem human.  Lucy’s writing puts us on her level and makes it easy to relate to her and feel like we’re talking with a good friend, which to me is the sign of a great writer.

While the story is fantastic, Lucy’s artwork is even better.  Her watercolor paintings of her adventures are bright, colorful, and exude life.  It makes me feel like I’m standing right there with her sampling exotic candies in Mexico and smelling fragrant cheeses in Chicago as she serves them to customers.  She has an elegance to her work that easily captures the human figure without overwhelming it with detail and unnecessary lines and just brings the story to life.  I could say more, but why give unnecessary detail?  Go check out her work and you’ll be impressed as well.

As you can tell I really enjoy Lucy’s work and I think a y’all will as well.  I highly recommend this book.  The story is simple, easy to follow, and flows naturally and the artwork is beautiful.  And I can’t give it any higher praise than that.

ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond

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