Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

By J. Ryan Stradal

  • Release Date: 2015-07-28
  • Genre: Fiction & Literature
Score: 4
From 213 Ratings
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'A tremendous novel that combines powerfully moving moments with hilarious satire' Daily Mail

'Eva Thorvald is the new Olive Kitteridge' Elisabeth Egan

'Kitchens of the Great Midwest is terrific' Jane Smiley, Guardian

Have you met Eva Thorvald?

To her father, a chef, she's a pint-sized recipe tester and the love of his life. To the chilli chowdown contestants of Cook County, Illinois, she's a fire-eating demon. To the fashionable foodie goddess of supper clubs, she's a wanton threat. She's an enigma, a secret ingredient that no one can figure out. Someday, Eva will surprise everyone.

One by one, they tell their story; together, they tell Eva's. Joyful, quirky and heartwarming, this is a novel about the family you lose, the friends you make and the chance connections that make a life.

On the day before her eleventh birthday, she's cultivating chilli peppers in her wardrobe like a pro. Abandoned by her mother, gangly and poor, Eva arms herself with the weapons of her unknown heritage: a kick-ass palate and a passion bordering on obsession.

Over the years, her tastes grow, and so do her ambitions. One day Eva will be the greatest chef in the world. But along the way, the people she meets will shape her - and she, them - in ways unforgettable, riotous and profound. So she - for one - knows exactly who she is by the time her mother returns.


  • Kitchens of the great Midwest

    By painting songstress
    Loved the variety of voices in this book- each personality came across so vividly and a life was built up with many facets and from many interlocking angles. Great vigorous writing.
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest

    By Anskey
    Started off really promising but couldn't help feeling that credibility was being stretched too far. The food was too perfect as was Eva. As for the ten thousand pound meal well that was unbelievable. It didn't even look as if they had decent portions. However, it was decently written.
  • Interesting

    By Beezy beebee
    I enjoyed the book. When I started, I wondered how it would all come together and at the last chapter, I wondered if there is a sequel! Unique way of telling a story.
  • Just captivating!

    By Semi-Frog
    A real delight....
  • Simply Brilliant

    By Disgruntleds7000
    This book is written in a wonderful and unique way, as each chapter (with the exception of one) tells the protagonists story through the eyes of someone in her life. It follows the story of Eva, from birth up to present day, her trials and tribulations as well as the successes and failures of those around her. The chapters are more like individual short stories and are named after various foods, which then feature in the story. From chapter to chapter, as elements of Evas life are revealed, some only fleetingly, we see Eva devleop and mature. It is this structure that makes the book so addictive, you genuinely end up caring what is going to happen next to her and to those around her. The various food and story elements come together in the final chapetr, which means that to really appreciate it you do have to concentrate on who is who throughout the book. Frankly though this isn't hard given the style and use of language that J. Ryan Stradal used. The story is warm and comforting, and such a alovely read that I can't recommend it enough. I found it by happy accident, it's the type of book that makes me wish i was in a book club so that I could rave about it to other like minded souls. It would also make a damn good independent film!
  • A guide to the heart and the kitchen

    By WallflowerK
    Stradal is a superb writer that manages to encompass heart warming expressions of family, friends and food. A truly awe inspiring book that would recommend to anyone looking to try something new!
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest

    By De real Lady M
    Bad language throughout. I now know why it is a freebie. This is a book fit only for people of a low educational standard who can't express themselves without resorting to foul language. I only give it a rating because there is no facility for not doing so.
  • Restaurants of the great mid-west

    What a shame the book ended - I could have carried on reading more and more, it was the best story I've read for a long time.
  • Breath of fresh air

    By Johnnyzbass
    A great story, I really enjoyed this book, no violence, how refreshing. I loved the way the characters developed through the story and came back with culinary contributions. Will read the sequel if there is one.
  • Beautiful book

    Prepared and digested tapas style