Review: Hungry Hearts

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the pastries she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that can cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one in the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

Since this an anthology, I will rate the stories individually. Overall though, I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection and I loved how they all connected in some way. Usually, it was by mentioning characters that appear in other stories or the restaurants. Not to mention the themes of each were either food or love, or in some cases, both. Not all the stories were fluffy, some were kind of weird to be honest, but again, I enjoyed most of them.

  • Rain by Sangu Mandanna – 5 stars
  • Kings and Queens by Elsie Chapman – 5 stars
  • The Grand Ishq Adventure by Sandhya Menon – 5 stars
  • Sugar and Spite by Rin Chupeco – 2 stars
  • Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid – 4.5 stars
  • The Slender One by Caroline Tung Richmond – 4 stars
  • Gimme Some Sugar by Jay Coles – 4 stars
  • The Missing Ingredient by Rebecca Roanhorse – 2.5 stars
  • Hearts à la Carte by Karuna Riazi – 3 stars
  • Bloom by Phoebe North – 3 stars
  • A Bountiful Film by S. K. Ali – 4.5 stars
  • Side Work by Sara Farizan – 3.5 stars
  • Panaderia ~ Pasteleria by Anna-Marie McLemore – 2 stars

Overall, there were three or four stories that I didn’t care for much. My least two favorites of the collection were Panaderia and Sugar and Spite, I just could not get into them at all. The Missing Ingredient was good up until the end when it took a weird/creepy turn that just ruined it for me.

My favorites from the collection were Rain, Kings and Queens, The Grand Ishq, Moments to Return, and A Bountiful Film. To me, those stories make the book worth reading and those are the ones that have stuck with me since finishing it.

So even though some stories I gave a 2 or 3 star rating to, I’d say the book is overall 5 stars. The individual ratings are just based on how I liked the stories. That’s not to say someone else won’t think they’re worth 5 stars, because the writing of all of them is great.  If you haven’t checked out this book yet, you definitely should!

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