Jena Henry's Reviews > Crave: A Memoir of Food and Longing

Crave by Christine  O'Brien
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it was amazing

Who is Christine O’Brien and what does she crave? After reading her memoir, I’m not sure.

But I do know that I enjoyed getting to know Christine and her family and I took pleasure in the well-tuned phrasing of this story. Although the book blurb promised painful revelations, I found instead the measured thoughts of a careful, good girl. I read this book over a few days, and when I had to put it down, I did so reluctantly and when I had time to read again, I looked forward to getting back to Christine’s world.

Christine was the oldest child of four, and the only girl. Her parents were remarkable. Her father was a successful entertainment executive and the tv shows and movies he produced are iconic. Her mother was raised in the Midwest on a farm and was also creative, intelligent and successful. Christine and her family lived in the Dakota, also iconic, in New York and then moved to Beverly Hills.

At this point in my description of the family you are probably picturing a crazy, out of control lifestyle beset by drugs and infidelity. Not so. In many ways, Christine’s family was typical All-American. Her mother stayed home, sewed Halloween costumes and spent time with the kids. Her father came home for dinner most nights and also seemed connected with his wife and kids. Although the father was high-strung, both parents seemed to love, and show love to their family. They enjoyed peaceful summers at the shore and other pleasant vacations. Christine and her younger brothers were close and enjoyed playing imaginary games together.

So, what was the painful problem? Well, it all began when the juicer bumped across the Formica. Christine’s mother suffered from hard to diagnose medical ailments and so she embarked on a quest to treat herself naturally with food. The juicer was the key to The Program. Christine’s mother bought crates of fresh lettuce, celery, and tomatoes each week and created fresh juice, and blended salads for every meal, for years. And thus began what the author called “the chain of control and rigidity and guilt.”

The author showed herself as a perceptive, quiet and contained girl and woman. As a child, one of her favorite books was The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. I loved the Peppers, a book series that was published at the turn of the 20th century. I also had other feelings of kinship with the author, as I grew up at about the same time as she did, back when parents were strict and mothers tended to have issues.

Crave lets the author tell her own story after the death of her parents. Her story is not dramatic, thrilling, or traumatic. Rather, it is a descriptive poem about her life and times.

While the book is described as the chronicle of a writer’s painful and ultimately satisfying awakening, I did not sense pain, but rather a series of deftly told observations. I am also not sure if she had a successful awakening but the book does end with the author realizing that it is healthy to seek a balanced life.

I enjoy memoirs and slice of life stories, so this book appealed to me and I recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a review copy. This is my honest review.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 25, 2018 – Shelved

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