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The Lost Art of Mixing
by Erica Bauermeister

This book is a sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients.

Lillian once taught cooking classes in the kitchen of her restaurant, but right now she's taking a break from it. The students from those lessons remain in her life. Chloe has become a chef in Lillian's restaurant, and she has moved in with another former student, an older woman named Isabella. But there are new characters, too: Al, Lillian's accountant, who struggles to understand the anger his wife directs at him over every little thing and Finnegan, a new dishwasher at the restaurant who collects the stories of people he meets in a trunk full of notebooks. As each person struggles with a new challenge - an upcoming baby, a dying marriage, or memory slowly slipping away – they find comfort and camaraderie in the family formed at Lillian's restaurant.

It's a very fitting sequel to the first novel, but it can also stand alone. The basic events from The School of Essential Ingredients are quickly recapped for new readers. I was really happy to see Isabella again, since she was one of the characters that really touched me in the first book; she reminded me of my grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer's, and helped me understand my grandmother's illness in a new light. I really appreciated that.

Since the first book revolved around cooking lessons, food was really the star. Here, it takes a step back so that the focus was on the relationships between the characters. But I missed the mouth-watering descriptions as each dish was prepared. Sure, food was still important, and there were still some amazing passages that made me drool – it just wasn't the main focus anymore. But that's fitting, because that is how life works – we move from one obsession to the next, and while the old interests remain they aren't always the focus anymore.

Something new introduced in this book is the idea of rituals; Al the Accountant has a book about rituals that he shares with the rest of the group, and as they experiment with the different rituals in the book – don't think witchcraft, it's not like that at all – new friendships are formed and old bonds are strengthened.

Overall, this is a fine book. Erica Bauermeister has a gift for taking normal, everyday moments and highlighting just how rich and meaningful they are.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Lost Art of Mixing, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2) by Rick Riordan
2011: The Demon in the Teahouse by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler
2010: Discussion Question: Would you read it?
2009: The Dot and the Line by Norton Juster


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