Title: Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites
Author: Kate Christensen
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Foodie
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Celebrated fiction author Kate Christensen turns her pen to non-fiction, as she writes a memoir of her upbringing, coming of age, and adulthood. Christensen is a person of voracious appetites, and as such, she tells her story through the prism of a constant love of her life: food.
Food is a subject that people love to read about. For some reason, the intricate descriptions and the carefully worded adjectives are things of joy for many readers. Food writing isn’t an easy thing to do, though; it’s easy to turn off a reader with too much description or for readers to become bored with the overuse of phrases and words. But food writing in the hands of a talented writer like Kate Christensen? I knew I was in for a treat with Blue Plate Special and was delighted to discover that it was so much more than just a foodie memoir.
Christensen writes a brutally honest memoir in Blue Plate Special. She doesn’t hide her flaws, doesn’t try to sugarcoat things for the reader. It’s intensely personal and raw at times; Christensen bares all, and it shows on every page of the book. She hasn’t had an easy life, dealing with her parents’ divorce, her mother’s depression, physical and sexual abuse, and more, and she recounts these experiences with frankness for the reader. Her writing is beautiful, and eases the difficulty of some of these serious subjects, and the refuge she takes in food is a constant theme. Viewing these experiences through food makes them somehow easier to bear, for the reader and likely for Christensen herself as she remembers them. It’s a safe place, a haven, a shelter, and it’s everpresent throughout the memoir.
Readers will surely identify with Christensen in Blue Plate Special. Readers have a certain sense of connection to one another, and they will feel (and understand) Christensen’s loneliness and pain over the course of her memoir. The fact that she doesn’t try to make herself seem perfect helps tremendously too; at times, the author can be difficult to like because of the way she presents herself. But instead of judging her, Christensen’s raw honesty reminds the reader to turn the mirror upon themselves, to look at their own faults and imperfections, rather than turning their judgment on the author. It’s incredibly well done, thought provoking, and reflective.
Blue Plate Special is a treat to read from beginning to end. The food descriptions are simply luscious, and readers will appreciate the way they lighten this dark memoir. It’s a great book to pick up when you’re in the mood for some reflection, for something to make you think, and while it can be heavy at times, it’s an easy book to devour from beginning to end.