Publisher's Note:  

From acclaimed novelist Kate Christensen, Blue Plate Special is a mouthwatering literary memoir about an unusual upbringing and the long, winding path to happiness.

“To taste fully is to live fully.” For Kate Christensen, food and eating have always been powerful connectors to self and world—“a subterranean conduit to sensuality, memory, desire.” Her appetites run deep; in her own words, she spent much of her life as “a hungry, lonely, wild animal looking for happiness and stability.” Now, having found them at last, in this passionate feast of a memoir she reflects upon her journey of innocence lost and wisdom gained, mistakes made and lessons learned, and hearts broken and mended.
   In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and Ruth Reichl, Blue Plate Special is a narrative in which food—eating it, cooking it, reflecting on it—becomes the vehicle for unpacking a life. Christensen explores her history of hunger—not just for food but for love and confidence and a sense of belonging—with a profound honesty, starting with her unorthodox childhood in 1960s Berkeley as the daughter of a mercurial legal activist who ruled the house with his fists. After a whirlwind adolescent awakening, Christensen strikes out to chart her own destiny within the literary world and the world of men, both equally alluring and dangerous. Food of all kinds, from Ho Hos to haute cuisine, remains an evocative constant throughout, not just as sustenance but as a realm of experience unto itself, always reflective of what is going on in her life. She unearths memories—sometimes joyful, sometimes painful—of the love between mother and daughter, sister and sister, and husband and wife, and of the times when the bonds of love were broken. Food sustains her as she endures the pain of these ruptures and fuels her determination not to settle for anything less than the love and contentment for which she’s always yearned.
   The physical and emotional sensuality that defines Christensen’s fiction resonates throughout the pages of Blue Plate Special. A vibrant celebration of life in all its truth and complexity, this book is about embracing the world through the transformative power of food: it’s about listening to your appetites, about having faith, and about learning what is worth holding on to and what is not.

Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites

by Kate Christensen

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Overall Review:  

Books about food fascinate me. They always have. Reading the middle grade Redwall series, my mouth would water at the lavish spreads the little rodents would devour. So it is only natural that I would be attracted to this book with a wonderful title and a beautiful cover--even though I have never read any of Kate Christensen's novels (on my to-read list now for sure!). This book isn't a foodie book, per se. It is filled with memories that the author has involving food, but it also has plentiful information about her life and her upbringing that have nothing to do with eating. I go through spurts where I love, love, love memoirs and biographies, and right now I am in one of those moods, so perhaps I am biased, but this book is wonderful.


The most endearing thing about this book was Kate's honesty and willingness to share what has formed her into the person she is. She tells of her memories of both good times and bad, and in everything she is thorough in descriptions, even when I am sure it might have been easier for her to push some memories to the back of her mind in an attempt to forget them. Sometimes she admits to restricting food because she is feeling depressed, and other times she writes of indulging too much because she is feeling empty and alone. Many readers will be able to relate to both situations and see a bit of themselves, which is what we are all looking for isn't it?--A kindred spirit in a world that can sometimes be cold and lonely.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  5 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 3 anatomical terms; 1 F-Word derivative


Violence/Gore:  A man is mentioned to have choked and died; a father abuses his wife (hits her and pulls her hair) which is mentioned several times; an individual is mentioned to have committed suicide; fantasy violence is mentioned in one brief scene (the author describes a scene in a book she is reading).


Sex/Nudity:  Minors kiss; minors are mentioned to be sexually active; two adults are described very briefly to make love; sex before marriage is implied; a boy is mentioned to expose himself to his peers; two mature discussions involving sex; a man and woman are mentioned to swim nude, this incidence is portrayed in a sexual way; sexual desires are expressed by the author several times; child molestation is mentioned twice with some very brief detail; attempted rape is mentioned with no detail.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, divorce, stealing, attempted rape, child molestation (mention).

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Minors drink; adults drink; drug use is mentioned; smoking pot is mentioned.

Reviewed By Lydia
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