Hungry Hearts by Elsie Chapman

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond, is a short story collection that shares the impact delicious food can make on one’s life. Anthologies are usually connected by a theme, but I love that the stories included in Hungry Hearts take place in the same world. While each tale is unique, its connection to other stories in the anthology make the overall collection more meaningful to read. For example, characters who are introduced through small roles in earlier stories are featured in a later tale that may provide their backstory. Additionally, all of the stories take place in Hungry Heart Row, a fictitious town that has restaurants of all varieties on every street, so key locations are carried throughout the book. 

 

I enjoyed reading Hungry Hearts, but three stories particularly stood out to me. In “The Grand Ishq Adventure” by Sandhya Menon, Neha runs a love-related advice column. Despite giving helpful advice to her readers, Neha does not usually have much luck in the love department herself. One day, she decides to take her own advice to become braver: eat alone and try new cuisines. In “Gimme Some Sugar” by Jay Coles, Leo wants to enter a cooking competition to win money to help his mom. His grandmother suggests he cook with one of her recipes. With his grandmother’s support, Leo is able to feel more confident about his cooking in the competition. In "Panadería ~ Pastelería" by Anne-Marie McLemore, Lila wants to tell a childhood friend that she likes him, but does not know how to say it with words. So, she relies on baking. 

 

In each case, the characters are able to learn more about themselves through cuisine. The reader becomes engaged with the inhabitants and stories of Hungry Hearts Row.

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