Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: Out To Lunch

Out to LunchAuthor: Stacey Ballis
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade

A touching and hilarious novel from the fabulous Stacey Ballis about best friends, true love, and the joy of food—for fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin...

Jenna has lost her best friend.
With Aimee gone so tragically young, Jenna barely knows where to turn. Aimee was the one who always knew what to do—not to mention what to wear. The two built a catering company together and had so much in common—well, except their taste in men. Jenna never understood what the successful, sophisticated Aimee saw in Wayne, with his Star Wars obsession and harebrained business schemes.

And gained her best friend’s husband

But Aimee has left a shocking last request: Jenna now has financial custody of the not-so-merry widower. True, Wayne needs someone sensible around to keep him under control, but what was her dear departed friend thinking?

The thing is, as she gets to know Wayne better, his latest moneymaking idea actually starts to intrigue her. Her attractive new lawyer boyfriend doesn’t approve of it—but then, Wayne doesn’t approve of her attractive new lawyer boyfriend. Now Jenna has to figure out what direction her life is going to take next. And she can’t help asking herself: What would Aimee do?

But this space is full of love and kindness, and I can feel Aimee’s faith in me, and I face the room to say what needs saying.

“Aimee has always been the source of my best and deepest laughter. She has been my secret-keeper for more than half my life. The sister I never had, my conscience, my sounding board. We have traveled the world together, literally and figuratively. She is my hero.”

Wayne. She gave me custody of Wayne.

Because if I’m going to help these people heal at all, it’s in the kitchen.

Stacey Ballis won my heart in her last book, Off the Menu! It was one of those books that I got through in one day simply because I refused to put it down. I love books that have anything to do with food and I love the author’s vivid descriptions of the food she writes about. This story was a little more heart-wrenching than her last as it follows Jenna who has just lost her best friend, Aimee. Aimee suffered from a liver disease and gave up her fight. In her passing she left Jenna with a rather odd task: being financially responsible of her less than merry widower, Wayne. Jenna thinks this is strange, but as much as she loved Aimee she is willing to take on the task. She sees quickly how much Aimee really knew what she was doing!

One thing that I found particularly tasteful in this book was the “voice” of Aimee. I am still unsure if she was meant to be a ghost or if this was just Jenna’s coping mechanism, but it was a way for me to get to know Aimee after her passing. I enjoyed reading and hearing her thoughts and responses to Jenna’s actions. I was able to understand the type of friendship that these two shared through this “ghostly” communication. Some might say it was unnecessary or unrealistic, but I think it added a certain spark and twist to an already intimate story!

At first Jenna does not take well to Aimee’s husband, Wayne. When I learned all that Jenna knew, I sided with her. However, by the time I reached the end of the book I had a different view on the scenario and Wayne’s character. At first I thought, how is this character going to be anything I want to read about? But I believe that is one reason that I am attracted to Ballis’s writing skills; she makes me appreciate characters and details that at first seem minute.

The food descriptions and recipes are always a nice touch as well!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley Trade in exchange for my honest review***

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