Some books are loud where others are quiet. There are positives to both books, but some stories are meant to be subtle. Jen Nails’ One Hundred Spaghetti Strings is one of those stories, quiet but impactful.
The book follows Steffy Sandolini and her sister, Nina, as they go through some major changes. When Steffy was three, her mom was in a car accident so bad that ever since, she’s had to live at the Place. Steffy and Nina visit her every week, but still she has to be reintroduced to her daughters every time. Soon after their mom’s accident, their dad had a breakdown and disappeared to California. Steffy and Nina have been living with their Auntie Gina ever since.
Steffy’s eleven now, which means that she’s “reading longer books…could ride my bike with no hands, and I was allowed to cook and bake all by myself, turning the oven on and everything” (2). Just as Steffy feels settled in her life, her dad comes back.
He’s a stranger in their home and while Nina is angry, Steffy is curious. She tries to get to know him through her real method of communication, cooking. She’s not much of a talker, but she’s definitely a chef. “I wished I could have my words pre-recorded or pre cooked” (77).
While she tries to get her reclusive dad to open up, Steffy also tries to connect to her mom through cooking her recipes. And then Steffy decides to try out for Chefs of Tomorrow, a TV competition for junior chefs. Even though it’s nerve-wracking, it also gives her confidence. “If I could go on TV and cook a meal, I could talk to my own dad” (234).
Steffy studies the recipes of a mom she loves but doesn’t know, and realizes that “your life was basically a giant recipe – that you decided all the ingredients that you wanted to put in it” (102). As Steffy cooks her way through her feelings, the story becomes more poignant and even more lovely. Nails writes with a sincerity and care that makes her story feel significant and real. Everyone has things that they struggle internally with, and Steffy is no exception. She cooks to express herself just like others paint or sing, and it’s through cooking that she learns about the world and herself. Nails’ novel is a delight to read, every chapter as captivating as the last. The only downfall to the book is that when it’s over, you’ll be hungry for more.
- Posted by Abriana