Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis

17166231This is the next book in Stacey Ballis’s line of foodie novels, full of cooking, food and recipes with ingredients I’d have to look up. The last fifty pages of the book are just recipes that have been described in the preceding novel. Luckily, I’ve heard that Ms. Ballis is putting out a cookbook compilation of all the recipes she’s written about so far, so I look forward to picking that up and maybe using it as some inspiration for my 35-for-35 project.

Jenna has just lost her best friend/business partner/soul sister, Aimee, to a long illness and is struggling to rebuild her life. Adding to the grief that she doesn’t want to express, Aimee has put her in charge of her husband, Wayne’s, finances for at least a year. Jenna and Aimee had started different but complementary business when they got out of grad school/culinary school, which they had then combined and then sold to a big conglomerate. Wayne is a 44-year-old geeky manchild that Aimee loved to the bottom of her soul, but Jenna never really understood AT ALL. And Wayne is a train-wreck, but maybe it comes from a good place after all. Slowly Jenna starts to find her way in a world without Aimee.

It was a good book, a nice book, but not nearly the book I thought it might be (so that’s on me). I’m never quite comfortable with the amount of wealth that Ms. Ballis’s recent characters all seem to have. It’s like I need the protagonist to be poor, but never having to work again at 42 is NOT going to be a thing I understand. And while I enjoy eating and interesting food, I’ll never be a foodie, so the constant descriptions of elegant, complicated dishes start to wear after a while. I also wasn’t totally on board with the romance, but if Jenna’s happy, I’m happy.