Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

A rich, beautiful novel about three unlikely, complex characters who meet in a chic Manhattan café and realize they must sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity, fulfillment, and love.

A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced characters whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café: Bobby, a gay Southern boy who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret finally comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef whose heritage is the basis of a famous cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her.

As it sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to the Manhattan of the deadly AIDs epidemic of the 1980s to today’s wealthy suburbs, A Place at the Table celebrates the healing power of food and the magic of New York as three seekers come together in the understanding that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you become whole.

My thoughts: Just reading about the book, I could hardly comprehend how in the world do such seemingly different characters possibly come together. I'll tell you, they come together by the magic of Susan Rebecca White's storytelling.

The novel mostly centers on Bobby. I will be honest and say I've never read a story about a gay male protagonist. I wasn't sure what to expect. The story begins when Bobby is just a little boy, even before he is understanding himself. I found myself falling in love with this little boy and cheering for him as he began to stand up for himself. Even as he becomes an adult, I felt so parental for Bobby! Oh and such an awful time, the 80s during the AIDs epidemic--I won't say more.

I felt so much for Alice, she had seen, lived and lost so much over her lifetime. Really liked her and had so much empathy for her. The story of Amelia--seemed out of sync with the rest of the novel. I will say it ended up coming together beyond my expectations! I have mixed feelings about the end of the novel. I would have liked a little more closure with one of the characters. However, it was simply a wonderful novel. I would highly recommend it. I also would have loved some more recipes in the back of the book :) everything sounded so yummy!!!

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