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Melissa Ford is the author of the blog, Stirrup Queens (http://stirrup-queens.com). She is also a contributing editor at BlogHer. She received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts--Amherst. You can find her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MelissaFordAuthor). She lives with her twins and writer husband, Josh.
Melissa's books are Navigating the Land of If (Seal Press, 2009), Life from Scratch (Bell Bridge, December 2010), Measure of Love (Bell Bridge, April 2013), and Apart at the Seams (Bell Bridge, coming 2014). She is also the author of Nidah, a short story on Amazon. She curses her common name and apologizes for any confusion with the other Melissa Fords on Amazon.
With a young child, and a couple of part time jobs to keep things going around our house, I keep a fairly strict bedtime for myself since my day starts at 5:30 a.m. I'm in bed by 9, and asleep by 9:30.
I stayed up until 12 midnight reading this book...it was like dark chocolate, your favorite christmas cookies, or hiding under the covers with a flashlight reading on the first night of summer. I kept telling myself one more chapter, one more chapter, but I literally could not put it down.
The characters feel like they could be your friends, and the language is creative and descriptive, and I wasn't really ready for the plot twists, they came out of the blue for me, but thinking about it days later, they feel like exactly how the story should end.
In my mind the ending was a thing of beauty--left you imagining how things turned out and wanting for more.
Life from Scratch II perhaps? Probably not, but this book grabbed me in the way Jennifer Weiner's books do--real characters that are easy to relate to, and excellent writing. Can't wait for another one by this author!
Anyone who has ever experienced heartache or setback of any kind will love this book about a journey to self. Whimsical and light, the universal search of Rachel to right herself after a divorce had me at June Cleaver's rolling pin.
It took me only 3 days to read the book. That wasn't my intent, especially since I began it just prior to holiday busy-ness, but I stayed up long into the night to see how Rachel would deal with her romance and career dilemmas.
I purchased Life from Scratch (the author's first novel), after having bought her non-fiction effort for a friend experiencing infertility. I had just finished Nicole Krauss's lovely, but labor intensive Great House. Ford's novel requires none of the plot-diagramming required by Krauss's book, but packs the same sense of humanity. Deeply funny, Ford's book is accessible, without pandering to the reader, and accurately charts the messy, serrated struggle of professional women attempting to balance work and relationships, while rediscovering their identities in the process. In this post-modern all-novels-require-footnotes literary market, it is refreshing to discover this witty, new voice and her smart, character-driven fiction.
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Life from Scratch is a fun book to read, but I felt the plot was far "from Scratch". From page 1 I couldn't help comparing it to Julie & Julia. The main characters in each book are in different marital situations, but they have similar journeys based on a blog. Also, the brother's current pursuit is straight out of a Seinfeld episode. I really enjoyed the book, but would have been disappointed if I hadn't read it for free.
I loved this book. What starts out as a deceivingly simple read adds layers until you're left with meditations on life decisions and depth of character. Give me a story with good characters and good character development, and I'll love you for it. The protagonist Rachel is lovely, warm, and flawed, and I found myself rooting for her. She's just so easy to relate to. At one point, Ms. Ford describes how an "average girl" feels, and I found myself nodding my head as I read. I think most of us secretly (or not so secretly) think of ourselves as that "average girl." Furthermore, even the characters who would be considered the antagonists in this book are simply people. They may be people who are at odds with our heroine, but they are people all the same who move through life with their own set of flaws and merits, goals and motivations. They are not overly vilified; they are painted as who they are, and we are left to feel empathy for Rachel but not hatred for those causing her pain. That is gifted story telling.
Finally, the plot twists in the book are not formulaic. It's not, "Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall madly in lust. Something happens to drive Girl and boy apart. Something happens to drive them back together again. The live happily ever after." It's more real than that. Yet at the same time, it's still a comfortable read. Speaking as someone who can't handle anything more sad or distressing than a Disney movie many times, that's high praise. I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn't reading it and eager to return to it. In fact, I read well into the night when I should have been sleeping I was so eager to finish.
This book starts out as a deceptively simple read and leaves you with more to chew on than you'd think. Glad there's going to be another.
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I'm not nearly as good a writer as Ms. Ford is, but suffice it to say, this is the best book I've read in ages. While it could be easily lumped into the "Chick-Lit" category, that doesn't do "Life From Scratch" justice. A story about a divorced woman on her quest to find herself speaks right to the heart of how we relate to one another, and the assumptions we make in our minds that cloud reality. So many lighter female-oriented stories dumb down their writing, but this story manages to plate a full and delicious meal without resorting to gimmicks or bland storytelling. I couldn't put the book down and would recommend it to anyone looking for a soulful yet fun read.
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