TW: unwanted pregnancy, addiction, alcoholism, parent and spousal abuse, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide
Good afternoon bookworms! Happy pub day to Erin French and her book Finding Freedom! Thank you to Celadon Books for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.
Memoirs are one of my favourite nonfiction genres because I’m nosy. I like take a deep dive into someone else’s life and learning all their secrets. So when Celadon sent me this memoir I was pretty excited! And Erin’s story is dark and inspiring. If you’re expecting a book about an untrained chef trying to make it in a male-dominated industry this book isn’t it. Erin’s life was filled with toxic people and toxic pills. Please check out the trigger warnings listed above.
Erin grew up in a household where her father was an angry alcoholic and her mother kept her mouth shut. Her dad owned a diner, where he worked 16-hour days. He came from a farm family and had his own small farm, he wanted sons but he got two daughters instead. And mother and daughters were resented for the rest of their lives because of this (insert heavy eye roll). As soon as Erin was old enough to help in the diner, she was in the kitchen cleaning and slowly progressing up to cooking. When she went off to college her dad was pissed, especially because she was going to an out of state college. Then she gets pregnant and even though everyone is pressuring her to get an abortion at the age of 21, she keeps the baby. Moves into her parents small outcabin and works at the diner. Her dad takes advantage of her being their and basically fucks off to drink with his buddies while she manages the place. But the diner is where Erin learns to cook and experiment with food.
Her story actually gets much darker from there, she ends up in an abusive marriage and addicted to pills. She goes to rehab and loses her son. But after all the heartache she is left with something she built, a restaurant that sells out every season within a few days.
Overall I loved this book. A solid 4 star memoir. Erin has a fascinating, heartbreaking story. But it’s filled with women finding their strength, it’s filled with inspiration and recovery. The only reason this one didn’t get that 5th star from me was the descriptive writing. Erin isn’t a bad writer, but maybe she needed a harsher editor. There are so many crazy long paragraphs describing every detail of a building or a dinner. I didn’t mind the food descriptions as much, but I don’t need to know every detail about floor boards and wallpaper. Multiple times in the book, Erin moves into a new space and gives extremely detailed accounts of what it looks like when she moves in and then all the changes she makes. And this takes 4 pages to tell you. It was way too much.
If you like memoirs and especially if you like food, you will like this book. It’s a great story of hitting absolute rock bottom and then climbing your way out to end up happy.