A few months ago I read Knisley's earlier work, French Milk, another food-themed graphic memoir that chronicled the author's month long visit to Paris with her mother, which I found to be a boring and pretentious recount of what should have been a trip of a lifetime for a college-aged girl yet instead was a whiny recollection of a trip of complaining and examples of how to be an ungrateful brat and treat your mother poorly. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that Lucy has matured a bit since she wrote French Milk and it shows in Relish. Each chapter of Relish visits a different place, phase and food experience of Lucy's life and each ends with a delightfully illustrated recipe (probably my favorite part of the book). As Knisley reflects on some striking food memories, she shares them with a fond affection for her family and friends connected to those experiences. I would have liked to see Knisley share more about other people's connections to foods, especially relating to her international travels. I was disappointed that Knisley never attempted to learn about or connect with any local people and their culture during her trips. Or if she did do those things on her travels, she doesn't share them in her book, which is a shame because I think those experiences would be a huge asset to her books.
In the future, I'd like to see Knisley develop a more heightened awareness of the world around her and write with a little less self absorption. I realize Relish is a memoir and therefore focused on the individual, but I still think a well written memoir includes some attention to the rest of the world and Kinsley's writing could be stellar if she wrote with a bit more substance and depth overall.
In the meantime, Relish is a quick, fun graphic memoir to read. The drawings are well done and I found the human expressions are accurately expressed as well as charming. Again, the recipes at the end of each chapter are great and a special touch to this food-based book. I also have to admit I particularly enjoyed reading the chapters in which Lucy was living in the Hudson Valley since I'm familiar with that area and have visited it regularly over the years.. both downtown Rhinebeck and Grieg Farm as a very close friend of mine lives in that same area.
GRADE: 3.5+ out of 5 stars. Maybe 4 stars. I really did enjoy it. :)
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