I am of two minds about Kitchens of the Great Midwest. On the one hand, it’s about doing something really, really well – cooking in this case; it’s about building your own community; it’s got an interesting narrative structure; and it takes place in a loving version of the midwest, the midwest as an awesome place to be, not the midwest as a place to run away from.
On the other hand, there are no positive depictions of relationships between women – they are all passive-aggressive with each other, even the ostensible friends; and there are very few – maybe no – positive parent-child relationships portrayed either. The only good parent in this book is a dead parent.
Ultimately, what you think of Kitchens of the Great Midwest depends on how you come down on these ideas. For me, they largely balance each other out. My deep irritation of the continued depiction of women not supporting each other outweighs much of the positive.
As always, your milage may vary.
(This actually might be the strongest opinion I’ve ever held about a book I would give 3/5 stars to.)