Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie by Beth Howard
My rating: 4 stars
Overview from Goodreads: When journalist Beth M.
Howard's young husband dies suddenly, she packs up the RV he left behind
and hits the American highways. At every stop along the way—whether
filming a documentary or handing out free slices on the streets of Los
Angeles—Beth uses pie as a way to find purpose. Howard eventually
returns to her Iowa roots and creates the perfect synergy between two of
America's greatest icons—pie and the American Gothic House, the little
farmhouse immortalized in Grant Wood's famous painting, where she now
lives and runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand.
I checked this out from the library on impulse - the title was interesting and when I read the inside flap of the book the story was too compelling for me to leave on the shelf.
There are parts of this story that are heavy and hard to read, but it was so real. That might sound silly because of course it's real, it's a memoir, but I got so wrapped up in this story that weeks after reading it I still think about the author - wondering how she's doing, like I would for a friend.
She shares so much of herself and in a refreshingly honest way - she doesn't hold back about things that weren't great in her marriage after she lost her husband, but she also talks about the good memories she had, and how she moved through her grief even when she thought that wasn't possible.
It's a powerful thing when an author can talk about a stage in their life that's totally different than anything you've experienced, but you relate to it all the same:
" 'You are like a trapeze artist. You have to let go of one swing in
order to grab the next one. There is that moment of being airborne in
between when you are holding on to nothing, and trusting that the other
swing will come toward you.That 'in between' is where you are
now, grasping for air.' " (212)
I'm a big proponent of baking - it used to stress me out, but now I use it as a comfort, and you see that with Beth's story - how making pie is good for her soul; how she uses it to help herself and others, even if it's just to enjoy a slice or two.
I took so much away from this book - wisdom, perspective, and yes, a craving for pie, but what has stayed with me the most is this:
"Back then my biggest worry was how to pay the rent on my meager pie baker's salary. Now my concerns were how to stay alive and not succumb to the madness and confusion caused by the existential question Marcus's death had raised: What is the meaning of life - and why bother sticking it out?" (143)
It's so easy to get caught up in the little things, but it really stuck with me that what she "used to" worry about - big things (like paying rent), really end up not being so big in the grand scheme of things. Definitely a good reminder.
This book is not a light read, but it was fast - I flew through it in just a few days because I was attached to Beth's story - I was holding her hand through the stages of grief and it just wasn't something I could put down and walk away from - it kept me engaged the whole time.
Have you read this book? Do you bake (or cook) as a form of comfort? I would definitely recommend putting this at the top of your "to read" list!