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From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
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From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  17,406 ratings  ·  1,807 reviews
A poignant and transporting cross-cultural love story set against the lush backdrop of the Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hour.

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  17,406 ratings  ·  1,807 reviews

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Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
My actual stars would be much lower but I feel it's unfair to judge a book just because it's a type of book I dislike. It was beautifully written and full of description that makes you want to be there. The issue is that I don't read books to make myself sad. There is enough sadness in the world without choosing to immerse yourself in it. Others love these books and I didn't want my taste to taint the rating of a beautiful book.
Erika Robuck
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the shores of California to an island in the Mediterranean, FROM SCRATCH is a rich, sensual reading experience. Equal parts uplifting and devastating, it is a memoir of soul-searching beauty. As extraordinary and unique as Tembi Locke's life is, all readers will identify with the themes of love, family, and forgiveness. Highly recommended.
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that made me appreciate my husband more ❤️ She shares the story of her love very well. It’s just a very sad story.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful writing and narration by the author. I visited Sicily in May 2019 and the author's descriptions brought it all flooding back. Sicily has everything, beautiful vistas, gorgeous beaches, amazing architecture, delicious food & wine, & wonderful characters! As I listened, I scribbled quotes on various scraps of paper, such as junk mail envelopes. I wrote on anything I had to hand when I heard something that twanged my heart strings. However, I appear to have mislaid most of them around my ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this, to connect with someone else who has felt grief, but it fell incredibly flat. The way it was written, I wasn't able to connect with the characters, and there was no plot. It was simply a sad woman who ate pasta. I expected to follow their love story and then feel the loss, grieving alongside Tembi, but it never happened.
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
“That morning I wanted nothing more than to know that it was possible for me to feel alive, fully alive again. The half living of life after loss was shifting. I wanted to be reminded of the bounty of life...”

Oh this precious little book touched my heart. I was tearing up at the prologue. Through Tembi’s words you can feel the love she has for her family.

I know first hand the challenges of learning to navigate the world again as a mom and widow so this book really hit home for me.

I laughed. I cr
From Scratch: a Memoir. . . .

This was an assignment from Reese W and Hello, Sunshine! Good thing, too, because this is not one I would have picked up and read, given my own choosing algorithms. But this was an interesting story, with all the happy accidents that result in real living (as opposed to fictionally contrived situations to fit plot points), full of crazy coincidences for which we make up plots, intervening characters engaged in divine and/or devilish interferences, with promises of ha
Susan Meissner
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful tribute to love in all its forms, even the love you still feel when you are mourning. That love is its own kind of love, as true, as powerful, as life-shaping as the kind you'd easily been able to express before everything changed. I loved especially these lines on p. 176. "...throughout life, we revisit the empty spaces. That was her understanding of grief. That we are always trying to reconcile memory with reality..." This is what it means to grieve; to cherish still every mem ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Probably would have given this book 2 stars, except that the writing really is beautiful. It just wasn't what I expected. This is a memoir about loss, period. If that's what you're here for, then you will likely get a lot out of it, but it wasn't what I was hoping for at this particular moment in my life.
Jude (NYJudester) Fricano
I wanted to love this book. Sicily, food, culture, family, love .. but unfortunately I did not. The story was too drawn out, too much forced drama. There were parts that made me smile, other parts I rolled my eyes. I wish I loved it. I just didn’t feel it.
Martie Nees Record
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date: April 30, 2019

I usually feel apprehensive when beginning a memoir. There are hundreds of memoirs written, usually ghostwritten, often from those in the entertainment business. Tembi Locke is an actress and I wondered if I was in for a poorly written, vanity book. From the first sentence, I knew this was not going to be the case. “In Sicily, every story begins with a marriage or a death.” I was already hooked.

The author is an African American fr
Jodie (That Happy Reader)
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-5-star-reads
The love story of Tembi and Saro is one of passion, commitment, and everlasting love. Not since Paul Kalanithi’s “When Breath Becomes Air” have I been so moved by a book.. Tembi Locke conveys passion and sincerity which is deeply felt on each and every page. It is articulate, vulnerable and full of symbolism. I could not put this book down and highly recommend it.

Please note: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review which I have provided here.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: hello-sunshine
The story she had to tell was compelling but it was overwritten. It seemed like her prose was trying too hard.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food-memoirs
What I thought this book was going to be about and what it actually was about were two entirely different things. I was expecting more of a culinary, upbeat, overcoming loss memoir. What it read as was a grieving, never ending, jilted story of a wife losing her husband (which I knew was a core part of the synopsis). I felt everything else was an afterthought. There were parts I couldn't wait to be over because she went on and on and on in a way that I couldn't empathize or connect with. Her writ ...more
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written testament of accepting life with all that life has to give, of love for another human being, love for parents, love for children and love for one's origins and birth place....
Mikala Hill
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
In all fairness, I am not the "memoir" type. But I was rooting for this one. It started off strong...and then drug on until the end. Bummer.
This was the perfect book for me to read during a week in Italy. Not only is it set largely in Sicily, but it ticks a lot of boxes in terms of my reading interests: food, travel, bereavement, and the challenges of being an American overseas. During a semester abroad in Florence, Tembi Locke (an actress I was previously unfamiliar with) met and fell in love with Saro Gullo, an Italian chef. His parents could hardly accept him marrying someone from outside of Sicily, let alone a black woman from T ...more
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
"She had said so many things, things that were hard to hear, harder still to push through. Things the therapist and books all said were very normal. When those moments happened, when the grief was too big and it threatened to buckle the frame of the house, we'd often go to the back yard of our house and lie on the grass, put our bodies prostrate on the earth. On the blanket looking at the stars, I would tell her to give her hurt to the stars. They could take it. I told her she could say anything ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-clubs
I am sure writing this book was cathartic for Ms. Locke. At least I hope it was. For me, I felt like I spent a book reading about her complaining about things that only someone with privilege could complain about. Yes, there were some racial issues and I am not diminishing the difficulties in losing a spouse; however, when someone spends pages explaining how gorgeous it is while they are able to spend summers mourning their husband’s passing in Sicily, those issues seem a bit less pressing. So, ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5. I think that Reese and I do not have the same taste. This is the second of her book club picks that I felt was just ok. Parts of this were wonderful, beautifully written, moved me to tears. But large sections were slow and a little too sentimental. There were meant times I was counting the pages to see when it would end. I intimately know grief and I’ve read other books that fully embrace the experience and strongly echoed my experience. This was not that book.
Marianne Fokas
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It appealed to me on many levels, I am of Italian heritage and my husband also died from cancer. I thought her writing was beautiful and the feelings expressed were so real and spot on when it comes to caregiving, and grief. It is also a story about healing and the love of family. And the food, Tembi had my mouth watering on so many occasions. I was so happy to see the included recipes! I plan on trying a lot of them. Wonderful debut novel!
Anne ✨
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Thoughtfully and beautifully written. It evoked all the senses of the sights, sounds, and tastes of Sicily, and nice insight into the heart of family and culture there. It also evoked all the emotions too, she tells honestly and with heart about both the good and the bad that she has faced.
Jules Buono
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best of 2019 / Best of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club / *feeling all the feels*

From Scratch is the tear-jerking memoir of Tembi Locke, who is not just an actress, but also an exquisitely beautiful writer who captures emotions in a way that makes the reader feel both her pain and her resilience in poetically strung sentences with captivating imagery. And I hung onto every word.

From Scratch recounts her story of meeting her husband, Saro, while she was studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Saro was a
Mellie Antoinette
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Life is still revealing itself to you. Be open to it.”

This was a beautiful memoir about grief, the aftermath of loss and ultimately the gut-wrenching steps it takes to carry it all forward into the future. With sunny hints of a Sicilian sky slipping through, tomatoes roasting on the stove and almonds to crack in the warm summer heat, it’s amazing how Tembi sewed the comforting hints of food and “otherness” - that second sense of self that happens when we lose a piece of our soul - into her jour
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
From Scratch is a beautiful story that moves through love, loss and moving on. While sad and heartbreaking, it is also a testament to love, family and community.

We meet Saro and witness a very moving romance between him and Tembi. The love they share is so strong that it overcomes thousands of miles of separation. When Saro becomes ill, their love provides strength and courage. The writing is exceptional and lyrical. The descriptions of the food and scenery are wonderful. I highly recommend Fro
Never Without a Book
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of love story I'm looking for in books. I boohoo cried. I hope Tembi finds love again. I highly recommend.
Yesenia Juarez
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful story, I thought this was fiction when I first started reading it and wow! I love the descriptions of Italian life and how beautifully Tembi wrote about its people! Love love love, I am going to make everyone I know read this beautiful book!
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Am I the only one who sometimes actually mourns the end of a book? My own healing from loss took me to Italy a few years ago. This book spoke to me in so many aspects and touched on that journey to Italy once again.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. One of best memoirs I've ever read.

Jessica Woodbury
A poignant memoir about finding love and moving on. Locke is a fantastic writer, able to keep you involved and engaged with warm, lush prose. She is particularly good at painting a picture of Sicily or a plate of pasta. You can feel the sun, smell the dishes, and get fully enwrapped in the warmth and love here. A bit of a weepy at first, but in the second half of the book Locke writes in more detail about her life as a widow and her growing relationship with her mother-in-law and it really surpr ...more
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As an actor, I started my onscreen career with the iconic comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Today you can find me in roles on The Magicians, Proven Innocent, NCIS: LA to name a few or on the big screen in the upcoming feature film, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson (2019). I love my acting career and, at the center of my work on set, there is always a commitment to story and the complexity of being ...more

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“Pain is part of life. That much I knew. If I could just teach her how to be resilient, how to love big, how to fear less. How to weather hurt, either at the hands of others or even the hurts she might unknowingly inflict on herself. I wanted her to know that love can come in many forms. That sometimes it can look like letting go, but it can also look like never letting go. That one day she might have to love someone in ways the world wasn’t ready for. That reaching for that kind of love would bring with it struggle, but in the end, it could be grander than her wildest imaginings.” 11 likes
“He soothed the places I hadn't known needed soothing, seemed perfectly willing to embrace the parts of me that were wanton, unsettled, unfinished, and contradictory. Together we had engaged life as two forks eating off one plate. Ready to listen, to love, to look into the darkness and see a thin filament of the moon.” 6 likes
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