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Kitchens of the Great Midwest Discussion Guide: Home

J. Ryan Stradal

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Information about the author is available at his website.

Follow J. Ryan Stradal on Twitter.

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Discussion Questions

(From the publisher)

1. From an early age, Eva is obsessed with food and cooking. What influences shape her interest?  

2. How would you characterize the Midwest as Stradal paints it in this book? What makes the setting unique and important for this particular story?

3. Stradal structures the novel as a collection of smaller vignettes from many different points of view. What are the advantages of this narrative style?

4. Throughout the novel, characters and stories intersect in unexpected ways. Which of these connections surprised you most? Which seem most important to Eva’s story?

5. Food takes center stage in this book. How does it bring people together and how does it keep them apart? 

6. At times, Stradal seems to poke fun at foodie culture. Which scenes or exchanges between characters struck you as a strong commentary on this foodie evolution?

7. Eva Thorvald is the heroine of the novel, but in some ways she is still quite mysterious. What is it about her that draws people to her?

8. From Lars to Eva to Pat, Stradal’s characters have their own prejudices about food and the way it should be made. What are some of their ideas, and which ones do you agree or disagree with?

9. Cindy has always claimed she would never be a good mother. Why does she insist on this and do you believe her?

10. The recipes prepared in Eva’s feast serve as a walk through her memory. How do foods or recipes play a role in your own memory or life story?

Suggestions for further reading