Those who know me in real life know how much I love to read. I never leave the house without my cell phone, key ring with CPR face mask and nail clippers attached (seriously, you'd be astonished at how many tasks you can do with nail clippers), my iPod, and a book shoved in my bag. I've even forgotten diapers and wipes sometimes, but I always have my book.
I constanly had my nose buried in a book as a kid. My mother would send me out to play, knowing I needed exercise, but I'd just take my book and sit under a tree somewhere and read instead. I had a little nook at the end of our living room couch between the couch's armrest and a side table, and I was a teeny little thing and I used to take a drink and a snack and stash them behind the couch and I'd curl up on the floor in this little spot and read. Sometimes my mother would stand right in front of me and scream at me at the top of her lungs and I wouldn't even know she was there (though paybacks are a bitch because my oldest does the same thing now and it drives me crazy even as I'm happy she's found the same relationship with books that I have). When my mother died when I was 15, I retreated to the solace of my room and read and reread all my favorite books. They gave me comfort when my world had been destroyed. I was able to get through some really awful years and horrible things in my life by retreating to my books.
When I find a book that I really like it's like I'm visiting an old friend that I haven't seen for years but who I have a close relationship with - like "ahhhhhhh, I'm home" even if I've never read the book before. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs is one of those books. I expected that it would be like some of the food mysteries that I've read - an easy to read, predictable plot with lots of meaty descriptions of recipes and dishes and a few recipes printed at the end. What I found was so much more.
What usually sucks me in to a book is the characterization - convincing portraits of people that pull me in, teach me something about myself or the world at large. I found that in Comfort Food, but in particular Gus' two daughters and their relationship following the death of their father when they were children and their mother's struggle to cope with her grief and establish a life for the family really, really struck me. They were convincing and compelling. I couldn't put the book down, which is particularly difficult when you have 4 kids and a lot of other stuff to do - one afternoon I picked up one kid from preschool while the baby slept and then I drove to the bus stop for my older kids an hour early and put on a DVD for Sunny so that I could keep reading. But don't we all go to such lengths for our old friends?
This post is part of the monthly book club for the Silicon Valley Moms Blogs. Go here to read what others are saying about Comfort Food, where you'll find more about how others have been affected by this book.