Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colon

The part of me that really loves food books was unable to resist Suzan Colon's book, Cherries in Winter. Following the author's attempts to make ends meet after being laid off from her job at a national magazine, Cherries in Winter finds Colon tracing her family roots through their recipes and stories of survival during hard times. With her grandmother's old recipe folder in hand and her mother to lend an ear as well as stories, Colon embarks on a journey of self discovery through her own ancestral past, exploring how hard times try us, strengthen us, and ultimately, end. This is a book about, above all, the past- about the continuity of our struggle to survive and build meaningful lives for ourselves, about the ways in which we are woven together in the impenetrable task of enduring- and finding something beautiful in doing so.

If the beauty of Cherries in Winter is found in it's search for transformative grace in the most dire of circumstances, then it's grittiness is found in its episodic nature which fails to meet the rotund fullness of the traditional literary essay. While Colon's book comes to consist of largely anecdotal elements which fail to be supported by the rather unremarkable selection of recipes, the book still retains a surprising ability to linger in the reader's mind long after the last page has been turned. Readers seeking the thrill of traditional food writing full of the sinful pleasures of the first souffle or an exotic twist on simple ingredients would do better to search elsewhere; however, readers looking for a pleasant read with a morning cup of coffee will find themselves sharing Colon's stories with friends before they are aware of it.

{images}: Barnes & Noble

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