By Erin French
Rating: 5/5 Stairs
Expected Publication: 6 April 2021
Which begins like this:
It was ten past three in the afternoon, the time of day I looked forward to the most. This was the hour each afternoon that offered a bit of much-needed semi-peacefulness in the kitchen at my father’s diner. It was the time of day when, for a split second, I could finally take a break. Over the past four hours I had flipped at least two dozen burgers, fried an equal number of clam baskets, plated a dozen meatloaf specials, and made a few BLTs, ham Italians, and egg salad sandwiches in between.Finding Freedom by Erin French
When I picked up this memoir, I had never heard of the small town of Freedom, Maine, Erin French, or her restaurant The Lost Kitchen. The cover is beautiful, and I really enjoy getting lost in a good memoir, so I dove right in.
As is apparent from the first page, Ms. French grew up around food. When she was young, her father bought a local diner in Freedom and she started helping out there at an early age. While not formally trained as a chef, Ms. French began learning to cook while working with her father at the diner. Her memoir takes us on her journey to move out of small town life and onto something bigger, but fate (and some very difficult twists in her life) keeps bringing her back to Freedom.
Ultimately, this inspiring memoir is one of resilience and hope. As the book begins, we learn that due to an unplanned pregnancy, she’s dropped out of college at age 21 to move back home to have her baby. Her life has taken an unexpected turn, but she’s determined to be a great mother and find a new path for her and her son. Right from the beginning as a single mother, we see that Ms. French is both a person who accepts and works with what life hands her, but also someone who continues to dream of what could be and finds a way to make it happen. Although, as we watch her story unfold, we see that there is a deep personal price she pays to make these dreams a reality. At times Ms. French’s story is uplifting, and other times it is heartbreaking.
I loved Ms. French’s descriptions. Whether it was a dish she was cooking, gathering reclaimed wood from an old barn to repurpose, or even just a moment of solitude before welcoming guests to an underground supper club, it was so vivid I felt like I was there. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of nights when she served dinners – both the diner’s experience, but more how she felt seeing her dinner guests enjoy the fruits of her labor. The descriptions of food left me longing for a taste, and you can feel the love she puts into each dish she prepares.
When I picked up this memoir, I had never heard of Freedom, Maine, Erin French, or The Lost Kitchen. I can tell you that after reading this, getting a chance to watch Ms. French prepare a beautifully cooked meal and then for me to enjoy it while I’m sitting at a hand-made table at The Lost Kitchen is now on my bucket list. I hope one day I’m lucky enough to check this one off the list.
A huge thank you to Celadon Books for sending me a copy of Finding Freedom. What a joy this was to read! #FindingFreedomMemoir #CeladonReads #partner