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 and 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.
©2015 Jessica Fechtor (P)2016 Tantor
"[Fechtor] writes with clarity and obvious joy about the foods that have meant so much to her." (Kirkus)
I read the opening 5 pages at a friend’s house and then decided to buy the audio book. What I initially found compelling was seeing how a young, intelligent, talented woman explained her life suddenly changing forever –even after a full physical recovery. The illness/recovery part of the book was moving. The story of her life as a 20-something, including her entirely sweet but wholly unremarkable love story which was weaved throughout the book was, frankly, a bit boring and a bit sophomoric. Her illness and recovery are certainly story worthy, if not inspirational. They are not however, book worthy. Maybe an article. Even a long article. Or a much shorter book. But at many points in the story I found myself asking “why am I reading a memoir about someone whose life, other than her illness, is no more interesting than mine”?
What makes Ms. Fechtor's story different from other 28-30 year olds is her illness and recovery. And those parts of her book are interesting. But there are many more chapters that are simply about the life of a regular college and graduate student. She writes lovingly about her family and friends, and I'm sure they treasure this work, but to a stranger, the details of her daily relationships, meals, etc. do not feel captivating. It is her story to tell as she pleases but I would have been much more satisfied learning more about how her recovery and the challenges she faced and choices she made and much less about the her friends and even some sections about her family.
Her performance was lovely. Her voice was full of happiness and energy and it added a lot to have the story read by the author.
It made me think that memoir was not the ideal format for this story.
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