Category Archives: Reading

Home is Where My People Are

Wednesday Reads Wide512EEPMJmVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to have your hair stylist offer you a tissue while you sit in her chair – not because she’s hurting your scalp but because you’ve gotten so caught up in a book that the tears flow involuntarily. But ya’ll, I just couldn’t help myself!

Sophie Hudson’s new book Home is Where My People Are: The Roads that Lead Us to Where We Belong is funny, touching, and unexpectedly soul-stirring. Sophie takes the reader on a journey from a Mississippi childhood to adult life in Birmingham, Alabama. With a truly Southern flair, this memoir chronicles not just life’s eventful moments but highlights the people who walked the journey with her.

I loved this book for several reasons. First, I laughed – a lot! Sophie’s discussion of poor clothing choices sent me into giggles. As a 20-something in the 90’s, I can recall having every appalling outfit she describes in my closet. Even better is when Sophie shares stories of her first years as a teacher and the chaos and uncertainty she faced every day. O how I related!

One of my favorite chapters is “Seventeen Helpful Terms for the Formerly Wayward and/or Semi-prodigal Who Decides to Go to Church Again.” Those of us who have grown-up in church will so relate to these churchisms that the new Christian doesn’t really get. Her definitions of “hedge of protection,” “small group,” and “season” had me rolling my eyes and laughing in agreement.

Amidst the chuckles, there were several moments when I requested another tissue from my stylist. The book brims with tucked away sentences that bring the big truths of life into focus. The reality of each one brings to mind how that truth is evident in your own life. I’ve moved around a good bit (much like Sophie did) and left “my people” behind in another state. When she speaks of being vividly aware “of a profound feeling of familiarity – a confidence in being known by the people who belong to a place,” the tears flowed. I was overcome with an urge to pick up the phone and call those who truly “know” me yet still love me.

The ultimate tear-fest came when Sophie tells of the tragedy that befalls her tight-knit group of college friends. My heart hurt as if I was a part of those women. She has such a wonderful way of pulling you in a making you love “her people” too. The Kleenex will need to be your companion during this chapter.

Overall, Home is Where My People Are brought me joy. Its Southern style (there’s a million ya’lls) made me feel right at home. So grab yourself a sweet tea and enjoy a few moments meeting Sophie’s people and remembering your own. Happy reading, ya’ll!

Wednesday Reads: Fiction and Food – A Perfect Combo

Wednesday Reads Wide
1395202031001-A-table-by-the-windowLife for Juliette has not been easy. She recently lost her grandmother, who left behind hints of a secret life. Her mother is battling cancer. Now Juliette is faced with the prospect of leaving her job as a food writer to open a restaurant – for the second time — with her brother, Nico. To complicate life even further, she’s met Neil, a handsome immunologist who lives on the other side of the country.

To cope with her ever-challenging world, Juliette cooks, and since she’s the youngest daughter of a restaurant dynasty family, it’s a natural fit. This cooking benefits not only Juliette as she sorts through her life, but also the reader who is generously blessed with scrumptious descriptions of Italian and French dishes. Each chapter ends with Juliette’s recipe written as if she’s sharing a cup of fine French coffee across the table from the reader.

The charm of Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge is the easy and comfortable manner in which the story is told. As I read, I felt the warmth of Juliette’s character as well as the steady love of family even through the deepest of frustrations. Each character is interesting in a real-life way that makes the story believable. The dialogue is often witty yet totally conversational. For example, the interaction between Juliette and Neil, which are mostly in letter-form, are a perfect example of two people falling love via the written word.

This book was such a charming read that I treated myself to it twice. Both times I once again cheered for Juliette to find love and become a successful restaurateur. I pieced clues together to discover Grandmere’s secret and earnestly hoped for Juliette’s mother’s recovery. As a food lover, I devoured the gourmet recipes and decided I too could cook fancy French food. All around, Table by the Window gave me sweet moments of respite from my own complicated world — twice.

Sequel to Table by the Window

NOTE: Reservations for Two: A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons (Sequel to Table by the Window) is due out in April!