Bitter In the Mouth by Monique Truong is the story of one woman’s search for identity and family, as she uncovers the secrets of her past and of her history. For as long as she can remember, Linda has experienced a secret sense—she can “taste” words, which have the power to disrupt, dismay, or delight. Depending on the speaker, listening, for Linda, can be delicious or distasteful since she suffers from auditory-gustatory synesthesia. Truong inserts these “tastes” as characters are speaking— which can be annoying at times. They are italicized so the reader has to sift through to find what is actually being said. Linda keeps this secret from her family as they keep their own secrets from her. But when a personal tragedy compels Linda to return to her hometown of Boiling Springs, she gets to know a mother she never knew and uncovers a startling story of a life, a family. Linda is not the most likable character but in the end you see how this condition really shaped her life. Too bad she kept it from her mother all that time.
“You know what you have to do now,” my mother tells me. “You have to put up soup.”Put up soup: that’s what my family says when times get tough. And so begins the story of Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colón who was laid off from her dream job at a magazine during the economic downturn of 2008. She needed to cut her budget way, way back, and her mother suggested she look throughher nana’s recipe folder. Reading it, Suzan realized she had found something more than a collection of recipes—she had found the key to her family’s survival through hard times. This is a real little gem of a book full of original recipes which make you stop and think back to your own family’s stories of hard times. Be prepared to finish it in one sitting and then perhaps pull out some old family recipe for dinner that night.