#IMWAYR (8/10/2020): Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Before we get started, I want to mention that Completely Full Bookshelf is now 4 years old! I've had such a wonderful time reviewing books for so long. Thank you to MMGM for being a wonderful community where I was able to start my blog and improve my reviewing skills, and thank you to #IMWAYR for being such a welcoming group and allowing me to broaden my blog to YA reviews as well. And of course, I have to thank all of the amazing authors whose books have brought me so much joy!

Now, for #IMWAYR, I am recommending the graphic novel Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.

A word of caution to any young readers: although this book doesn't fit precisely into the YA genre, it is not an MG (middle grade) novel and contains some mature content.




          I decided to read this graphic novel after seeing Jana Eschner recommend it on her blog, Jana the Teacher, and I'm so glad I did! Relish is a graphic memoir about a subject I think we can all get behind: food! Being the child of a chef and a foodie made author Lucy Knisley a huge fan of food and of cooking. Food permeates all of Knisley's memories, from helping her mother with catering jobs as a child to working as a cheesemonger later in life. In Relish, Knisley chronicles her life from childhood to present day and illustrates (literally) the ways in which food has influenced it; plus, she includes a recipe at the end of most chapters, with the steps illustrated in fun comic form!

          The funny thing about Relish is that I don't have a ton to say about it, but it is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read! First of all, Knisley has collected an absolutely wonderful selection of anecdotes about herself, family, and friends. Relish shows some of the ways in which food acted as a formative experience for Knisley, it contemplates the cultural value of food and people's differing palates, and it also sneaks in some coming-of-age experiences and a look at Knisley, her parents, and other characters as they age and grow. Although a couple chapters are a bit too similar, most chapters are varied, with their own interesting aspects ranging from travel and art school to cravings and junk food. (I'd tell you more, but I'd rather you read the book and experience each story for yourself.) Knisley is an excellent storyteller with a fascinating life, and she is incredibly skilled at pulling you into each chapter and making you feel like you are living Knisley's life! Relish doesn't have much conflict in its story, but instead of becoming dull as a result, it just becomes an incredibly pleasant and soothing read!

          Relish also deserves acclaim for its illustrations. Despite the strangely dull cover, the pages of Relish are rife with vivid colors, expressive facial expressions, and drawing after drawing after drawing of delicious food! (It helps that Knisley's prose is unusually descriptive for a graphic novel.) Knisley puts her illustrative talents to work in the recipe at the end of almost every chapter, whether she uses them to draw out the steps so that they are more clear (as with a recipe for sushi following a chapter set in Japan) or just to include fun visual gags (as with some butterflies flying around a butterflied leg of lamb in the second recipe). Knisley supplements her illustrations with numerous little captions pointing to aspects of almost every panel, which help to add an enormous amount of detail: in one panel detailing stores in Rhinebeck, New York (Knisley's hometown), there is a mention of Oblong Books, a real bookstore that I just ordered a signed book from a couple of months ago! This book is bursting with thoughts and details across every square inch, which ensures that, despite its short length (167 pages), it is still a wonderful reading experience!

          When the coronavirus pandemic ends and people can go on vacations again without endangering their lives, Relish would be a perfect book to read! It is a sweet, serene sanctuary that makes you feel as if you are sitting with a loved relative, listening to them tell stories of a bygone time. You might not want to wait and save this book for a vacation, in which case read it now, as it's a perfect book to read in this time of stress and tension. Perhaps the best compliment I can give Relish is that, although I hadn't previously heard of Knisley, I'll definitely be reading more of her books in the future! I absolutely recommend this book!

Update (1/2/2021): My rating is: Really good!






Update (4/15/2021): My rating for the graphic novel-averse is: 3!





Comments

  1. Congratulations on 4 years!!! I love your reviews and my TBR has grown because of them.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad that you've found some new books from my blog! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. That is quite a milestone -- 4 years. Congrats. I don't read much YA, but that category between YA and MG is interesting territory. Thanks for telling me about Relish.

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    1. Thank you! Relish spans such a long time in Knisley's life that I suspect it would have quite a bit of appeal to both YA readers and adult readers. Thanks for reading my review!

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  3. Happy Blogiversary! Four years is a great accomplishment in blogdom these days! I am always interested in Knisley work; there's something very appealing about her pictures, but I'm always a little disappointed in the story.

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    1. Thank you! I had heard some criticisms of the story in Knisley's MG graphic novel, Stepping Stones, but I think the story in Relish is excellent! Her art is amazing as well. Thanks for reading my review!

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  4. This book sounds amazing! I love anything about food and watching cooking shows is what I do to relax. I am certainly in the mood for something soothing to read, so I will definitely check this out.
    And congrats on four years of blogging! That's quite an accomplishment! Keep up the interesting and very thorough reviews!

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    1. Thank you! I used to love watching the Food Network all the time, so I can relate! I hope you enjoy Relish!

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  5. Happy Blog Birthday to you! I've seen this book a few times, but haven't read it yet. It looks like a fun one!

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely a fun book. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Happy Blog Birthday today! I could echo Michele's comment. This has been on my list for a while & I'm sure it's going to be fun to read. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Thank you! Relish will definitely be fun to read. I hope you enjoy it!

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  7. After reading Relish, I became a big Lucy Knisley fan.
    Happy blog birthday!

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    1. Thank you! I imagine I will now become a big Knisley fan as well! Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Happy Blog Birthday! And now I'm hungry...

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  9. I don't think I have read anything by this author- but I do love graphic novels. Sounds like this one is a hit. Always nice to read a book that you just really enjoy- even if it isn't for a specific reason. Just a good book. :) Thanks for sharing.
    ~Jess

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    1. I completely agree! I hope you try this book! Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Happy blog birthday. I need to read this one.
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! You should definitely try it out. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I have this one on a book stand on top of my refrigerator. I have made many of the things in the book and I especially love the chai recipe.

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