From Publishers Weekly
Protagonist Olivia Tschetter has come home from graduate school following the sudden death of her mother. While in her hometown in South Dakota, family secrets and new surprises boil over, but it takes too long for the bubbles to rise in Gilbert-Collins's debut. Oddly, one secret Olivia herself keeps is passing her thesis defense at graduate school. Olivia looks to find solace by taking over her mom's cooking legacy and regular recipe newsletter, but this supposed love of the kitchen is barely apparent, except for an occasional peppered note, "She stood in the produce department, hefting the garlic bulbs one by one, fingering the pearl onions in their papery skin, and felt herself slowly relax." Although recipes are cleverly included, some of the most appetizing dishes are left undisclosed. Gilbert-Collins has a good sense of characterization, but it's not enough to save her story. (Aug.)
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Olivia Tschetter returns from graduate studies to her South Dakota home just before her mother Vivian’s unexpected death. The gathering of her family only deepens her sadness and her sense of distance from the rest of her family. Sinking into depression, she finds herself unable to return to the university. She can’t even summon up the strength to celebrate with her family her recent academic accomplishment: a successful defense of her doctoral dissertation in linguistics. To keep herself occupied, she goes to work at the local charity kitchen, where her involvement with the Meals on Wheels program leads her on a journey of discovery, both about herself and about her mother and sisters. Gilbert-Collins has an ear for the inflections and cadences of upper-midwestern speech, which adds to the book’s other charms. A few recipes appear within the text to document some of the significant foods prepared and served. --Mark Knoblauch