Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Review: Finding Freedom: A Cook's Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French

Erin didn't have the easiest life. Her dad was a tyrant who forced her to work long hours in his diner in Freedom, Maine. Her mom was loving but didn't speak up for her. She loved the food at the diner and trying new things but she didn't love how much it took her father away from the family and made him perpetually stressed and angry. 
She managed to get away to college even though her father refused to pay for it. And after a late-night get together with her old high school boyfriend, she ended up pregnant, which went over like a lead balloon. So she dropped out of college at 21 and had a baby boy (what her father always wanted instead of Erin and her sister.) Meanwhile she was working at the diner, often solo, often 16+ hour days. When she moved out, she also got a job at a high-end restaurant. There she met Tom, twice her age, who at first seemed like a creep. Eventually she decided her wasn't, and reader, she married him. And reader, it was bad.

Tom was an active alcoholic when she married him. He cheated on her. He also adopted her son and helped her open a restaurant so it seems like he wasn't all bad. But then when she started taking a lot of pills to deal with the stress of the restaurant and him, things went south fast. There was some physical abuse and a restraining order. But then when she went to rehab, he closed her restaurant (somehow only her name was on the mortgage and only his name was on the title, hmmmm) and took away her son. She fought him for custody and also fought her way out of debt to open another restaurant, which is wildly successful (the reservations are sold out within minutes of their opening for the entire season.)

It's as if Ruth Reichl had a bad childhood and a terrible twenties. Or if Anthony Bourdain was a women who was a teenage mom. Tons of drama, lots of trauma, but oh the food, the glorious amazing food.

This book is published by Celadon, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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