Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Book Review: "Good Enough to Eat" by Stacey Ballis

Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out café specializing in healthy and delicious food. Then her husband left her-for a woman twice her size. Immediately afterwards, she's blindsided by a financial crisis. Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage and becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker. In this warm and often laugh-out-loud novel, Melanie discovers that she still has a lot to learn about her friends, her relationships with men, and herself-and that her weight loss was just the beginning of an amazing journey that will transform her life from the inside out..

I'm sure there are many women out there who feel that they have to lose weight in order to either attract a guy or keep a guy's interest. So imagine the shock if you do happen to lose weight and your guy dumps you because he liked you better when you were bigger. It's not something someone would normally expect but that's just what happens to Melanie in this book. I don't know what I would do if I were in that situation. It's totally understandable as to why her self esteem went down. I mean, here you are trying to be healthy and not losing weight for selfish reasons and then your husband breaks up with you because he misses that extra weight. It wasn't even that she was a normal size and losing unnecessary weight. Melanie was actually in the obese range and learning to be healthy and then her husband does that to her.
It's enough to make anyone get depressed and gain back all that weight but thanks to her nutritional counselor friend Carey and her coworkers at the restaurant/shop she owns, Melanie is able to slowly pull out of that funk.

I loved reading about her entrepreneurship with her cafe. I would gladly come to Chicago just to eat there. Everything sounded delicious and it also sounded like a really fun place to work. The characters that make up this novel are very engaging. I really liked Melanie's relationship with Nadia. At first they start off as an "Odd Couple" type of relationship but eventually they grow closer but still maintain that off beat distance. Nadia's story is equally as interesting to read about. Plus there's an Amish twist! (I can't seem to escape them)
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Melanie travels to DC to visit her friend and ends up touring the Holocaust Museum. If you have not been that museum, it is worth alone a trip to DC just to visit it. I felt that Melanie's experience was exactly how I felt when I visited the museum last year. It's hard to explain the feelings and emotions you get while visiting but it's a a deeply moving experience. It is also in this trip that Melanie begins to find love again and starts a new relationship. What I liked about her and Nate was their easy going nature and the ability to not have everything be so concrete.

The absolute best of the book for me is all the food. First at the beginning of each chapter is a short essay about comfort foods that Melanie grew up with. Of course, throughout the book, since a cafe is being run, lots of food is talked about. Then at the end of the book are recipes! I love books with recipes because I want to make and eat what the characters are eating throughout the story. If they are raving about a dish, I want to try it too. What's really nice is that there are two different versions of each recipe - the decadent, fatty, buttery one and then a lighter, healthier version. Both kinds look equally delicious and I'm looking forward to trying out several of them.

I wouldn't necessary classify this as a chick lit novel. More so a contemporary read with a LOT of good and yummy food. It's a fast read but with a lot to think about as you read. Just be sure to have some snacks or dinner ready as soon as you finish because I guarantee you will be hungry.

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis is published by Berkley (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. Great review! I enjoyed this one as well.

  2. This sounds like a good book! I'm glad to see some plus size characters in books.

  3. I really enjoyed this one. I reviewed it this weekend. Great review.

  4. Great review! I've been waiting for this to be released. I purchased it yesterday for my trip this weekend. I'm trying to hold out reading it until then. It's hard!


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