Book Review: From Scratch

Plot:

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.

Review:

I dislike novels that are heavily promoted and tend to only be famous due to their marketing. As they tend to lack in quality.

Tembi Locke definitely has a way with words. With the opening beautiful prose, she weaves a tale of love and loss, jumping back in forth in time from when she first meets Saro, to the present day when she is learning how to live without him. She discusses the obstacles overcame as Saro’s traditional Sicilian family disapproved of his relationship with an American black woman, and the long, painful fight they endured as Saro battled cancer. She describes the joy they felt as they adopted a baby girl, and the paralysing grief as she watched him take his last breath. She details the growth of her relationship with Saro’s mother, and how Sicily became a second home to her.

I found this to be such a touching story. One about love and loss, family, and learning to move on in the wake of insurmountable grief. Tembi makes us fall in love with Saro and mourn his passing. She makes us feel anger at his family for being so incredibly narrow-minded and traditional to the point of losing their son. She also educates us on Italian and Sicilian culture and perhaps most obviously, makes us hungry for the authentic Italian cuisine.

This is the first memoir I have read, and although at times I thought this novel felt a bit repetitive it was still an interesting read.

3/5 Stars

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