Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home
Calling a recovery memoir charming and fun to read may seem strange, but the story of how Jessica Fechtor put her life back together after suffering a sudden aneurysm is both. Twenty-eight-year-old Fechtor (Harvard grad student, newlywed) was up early for a morning run one day, when she collapsed on the treadmill. Despite multiple surgeries, losing vision in her left eye, and then a significant portion of her skull, plus the temporary erosion of her sense of smell, Fechtor remained determined to get her life back—one comforting meal at a time. She seamlessly weaves family recipes into her narrative—her husband Eli's oatmeal cookies, her friend Julia's sesame noodles, her mother's chicken soup—evoking character, place and Fechtor's passion for cooking. And the combination of practical, easy-to-replicate recipes and Fechtor's warm, witty voice makes Stir a page-turning pleasure, as well as an inspiring reminder of the healing power in our everyday routines. "I had to get back in there," she says, referring to the kitchen, shortly after a surprise infection left her sicker than ever. Flour, sugar, almonds, butter, family and lots of love—Fechtor's ode to cooking as a means of salvation will make you want to cheer her on, all the way to the end.
— Julie Buntin