Melanie Hoffman, the heroine of Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis, tackles what could be some very depressing challenges in her life: divorce, food issues, entrepreneurship (she owns a gourmet take-out café) and relationships. She manages (and sometimes mismanages) it all with pluck and support from family and friends.
Each chapter in this novel begins with Melanie’s reminisces about how certain foods relate to events in her life, be they large or small. Quite a variety of food is covered – mashed potatoes, chocolate cupcakes, peanut butter; I liked how the author was able to place them just so - they all have a place in the story. Also, all the food mentioned as the story chapters are included twice in recipes at the back of the book. The first recipe for cupcakes is a health conscious variation of the second which are called Decadent Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, and from reading through the ingredients they are, well, more decadent than the lighter version. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet but I definitely plan to.
The author describes some of Melanie’s preparations in getting the café’s food ready for customers and the interaction between employees makes it sound like fun – I’d like to work there! I imagine though, that no matter how much fun it is, and how much help Melanie has from her employees, running a café is a lot of work. I didn’t (mostly) get that impression from reading this book. I mention this because I used to own an ice cream shoppe and though we only sold ice cream (in all its forms) it was time-consuming and intensive.
Good Enough to Eat is well-written and I enjoyed the story. I liked Melanie. She was written with both good and bad character traits – always a plus with me when an author doesn’t make a character all good or bad. The only bit that I didn’t much care for was a particular scene during a party with Melanie and her friends. The love and caring attitude that everyone showed for each other was slightly too much for me. Not that that doesn’t happen in real life – I’m sure it does; but somehow it just rang a bit hollow. It’s like those movies you see where campers sitting around the campfire are singing and toasting marshmallows and everyone’s mellow and happy. Perhaps I found it a bit corny, I’m not sure, but it overall it wasn't that distracting. Aside from that small bit though, I can honestly say this book is worth the read and the recipes!