Saturday, June 27, 2015

Stir - Review

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  At 28, Jessica Fechtor was happily immersed in graduate school and her young marriage, and thinking about starting a family.  Then one day, she went for a run and an aneurysm burst in her brain.  She nearly died.  She lost her sense of smell, the sight in her left eye, and was forced to the sidelines of the life she loved.
Jessica's journey to recovery began in the kitchen as soon as she was able to stand at the stovetop and stir.  There, she drew strength from the restorative power of cooking and baking.  Written with intelligence, humor and warmth.  Stir is a heartfelt examination of what it means to nourish and be nourished. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book: Food, healing, how could I pass it up?

My Impression:  I had a strong idea of how this book was going to go before I started reading it.  I thought this would be more from post-aneurysm and her talking about the foods that people brought her, that she craved, or that she made as soon as she was able. But when I started reading that wasn't what I found.  Not that what I found was bad it just wasn't quite what I expected.
We start with Jess lying on the floor after falling off a treadmill.  And follow through the tests and the diagnosis and the strategies, through rehab and being back home and then more tests and more theories.   As someone who has never really had any health problems I could identify with her complete disbelief of just how little she would be able to do while recovering.  If someone told me I'd be lucky if I could get through a shower as my sole even to the day I don't think I'd believe them either.
I loved her interaction with her family and how strong her bond with both her mother and her stepmother is.  This is a good person surrounded by good people who shows incredible strength and fortitude in a situation that would probably make me want to pull the blankets over my head and cry.  The book itself is told mostly in present day but with flashbacks of how she met important people in her life or back to important memories.  For the first few chapters this felt a little jerky but it does smooth out.

Now you may have noticed I haven't mentioned food yet.  Despite a strong mention in the blurb and the subtitle food doesn't really stand out for me.  She talks about food quite a bit and there are a scattering of recipes throughout the book but when I think about this book the food doesn't jump out.  The people do.  When she talks about Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies it isn't so much the cookies but WHO brought them and WHO she remembers making them with.  I can't taste the food she describes but I can hear the sound of the laughter of a dinner party or feel the wooden spoon in my hand.  I don't want to try Marcella's Butter Almond Cake but I'd love to meet Amy!
Towards the end of the book the food gets a little more prominent and does play a bigger role in Jess's recovery but when I think about this book I will think about the people and the strength.  While this isn't the book I expected it is a book I enjoyed

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes I would.  I found it a fascinating read.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads



Challenges Met? Foodie Challenge - Memoir

23 comments:

  1. Wow. I can't even imagine going through what she did and at such a young age. This caught my attention: "I can hear the sound of the laughter of a dinner party or feel the wooden spoon in my hand" -- sounds like a vivid and well-written memoir.

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    1. I really enjoyed this one. It's one of those that the more I think about it the more I liked it.

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  2. Sounds excellent, but I book I'd need to be in the right frame of mind to read.

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    1. Despite the heavy subject matter it's actually a pretty light read.

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  3. I like books like this. Have you read Brain on Fire?

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    1. I haven't but I'm going to go look it up now.

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  4. The cover of the book grabbed my attention. The meat of the book sounds riveting & sad. Inspiration too, so I would need to be in just the right mood to tackle this one.
    Good review.

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    1. It's actually a surprisingly light read considering the seriousness of the subject. Yet at the same time she didn't trivialize it.

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  5. I also find it hard to relate to someone when something so tragic happens and effects their life so. I had an injury that killed my soccer career. But it was far from life altering life Jess. Anyhow, I'm glad you were able to get such a visceral read even if it wasn't exactly what you thought it would be. I guess food really can play a massive part in our lives.
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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    1. I can't imagine going through what Jess went through. It's really an amazing story. I can't imagine what you went through either. It may not have been life threatening but it was life altering.

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  6. What an unusual book. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

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    1. It definitely was! I really enjoyed it.

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  7. I love to read memoirs about the average underdog, and this book would fit that category. However I feel badly for you that you assumed it would focus on the MC and her love of food, and that is not really true. Blurbs and covers can be misleading!

    I see you received it from Netgalley. That is a concern of mine when I download new-to-me titles and authors as e-books from there. You don't get the chance to carefully peruse front and back, the table of contents if it has one, the first page, and a bit inside as you would like a print book in a bookstore, when you can get a better feel for the author's style.

    However I do read mostly e-books, so I am just speaking from experience. It still sounds like a good read if you don't go in with any preconceptions. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. That is definitely a problem with Ebooks that I had never thought about it. While this wasn't exactly what I expected I still really enjoyed it.

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  8. I love memoirs. This sounds sad, but like a book I'd enjoy.

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    1. It does sound sad but it really wasn't. It was more a tale of survival and friendship than a tragedy.

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  9. I like the sound of this one! The premise reminds me a little of Season to Taste by Molly Birnbaum, who was about to enter culinary school when she lost her sense of taste after being hit by a car. I've been meaning to read that one for a while now, so am putting this one on the list, too!

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    1. She actually mentions Birnbaum in the acknowledgements but I didn't realize she had a book. I'll definitely have to look for it.

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  10. We all need a bit of a challenge in our reading. I do anyway, as I can get in a bit of a rut. This one sounds worth it.

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    1. I definitely try to mix it up when I feel myself getting into a rut. It definitely helps. I really enjoyed this one. The story is amazing!

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  11. This sounds like an amazing book! As an occupational therapy student, working with people to get back to what's meaningful to them is the ultimate goal for us. It's always interesting to hear people's stories and their journey. I'm a little sad the food didn't stand out as much, but I'm glad you still really enjoyed it!

    Great review, Katherine!

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    1. I'd be interested to hear what you think of this one since you've had some professional connection. The food stood out at the end but the bulk of the book was about her recovery and her family. It was wonderful even though the food wasn't as much in the forefront.

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  12. This sounds interesting and has been on my radar on NetGalley for awhile... I wonder how she was able to use food to heal, since she lost her sense of smell. So much when it comes to taste depends on odors and aromas.

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