Sunday, October 31, 2010

How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler

Rating: 4 stars

How Sweet It Is is the first book that I’ve read by Alice J. Wisler.  I admit that I did not have high expectations for this novel.  Based on the back-cover synopsis, I expected this to be light-hearted, perhaps "cheesy" read that lacked depth.  To my surprise, the storyline was fresh and meaningful, with dashes of flavor that are unique to Wisler.  The story is told in first person by Deena Livingston, a young woman who moves into her deceased grandfather's remote cabin in North Carolina, following a devastating car wreck and a broken engagement.  Deena's life has diverged onto a path that she has not chosen and she must attempt to find happiness and healing in her new home.  Living in her grandfather's home and following his instructions to teach cooking to a group of troubled middle school students, Deena learns life-changing lessons about love, forgiveness, happiness, and healing. 

How Sweet It Is inspired me in a couple of ways.  The novel is infused with cooking ideas and recipes as Deena teaches her students to cook and experiments in her own kitchen.  Although I am not a cook, I decided to try out the "homemade" tortilla chips referred to in the novel.  (Cut a flour tortilla into triangles and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.  Deena coated hers in olive oil and sprinkled the pieces with garlic salt, but for dessert, you can coat them in butter, cinnamon and sugar).   A few recipes are also included in the back of the book, which is a fun addition to the novel.

More important than cooking-related inspirations, I was moved by the novel's message of finding happiness in life even when it takes an unexpected path.  Although I have not gone through an experience as tragic as Deena's, I am struggling with an unchosen job change.  Like Deena, I find myself longing for my former life.  (In my case: my former job, office, and co-workers.)  Reading Deena's story has inspired me to search for happiness in my new circumstances.  Although it may take time to adjust to life's new flavors, we must trust that the end result will be a delicious new recipe with its own unique tastes that are worth experiencing. 

How Sweet It Is opens with this quote by Helen Keller, which I find particularly poignant:
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.


  1. Thank you for reading and for posting this nice review of How Sweet It Is! I hope you'll check out my other novels, too!

    ~ Alice J. Wisler

  2. Ms. Wisler,

    Thank you for your comment!

    We are looking forward to reading "Hatteras Girl" in the next few weeks, and we also plan to read "Rain Song."



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