Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages
At a Glance: A wonderful tale about surviving loss and finding hope again.
Reviewed By: Angel
Blurb: Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.
Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.
Review: The thing I love about Rick R. Reed’s work is that it does not disappoint, mentally or emotionally. It is real and fantastic at the same time. By that, I mean there is this way he writes that just draws you in. I can get lost in his storytelling and not realize just how much time has passed, or the fact that I am shedding tears of both laughter and sorrow over a fictional character. The books I have read all have happy endings, but the characters have to work for it. Their conflicts aren’t manufactured, nor are the endings easily found. It is like life and I love that, even in my escapes. There is emotion in the reading that is dramatic but doesn’t feel overwrought—real life issues and consequences that are believable and feel natural; wonderfully flawed characters that play perfect on the page.
Dinner at Fiorello’s is no exception. Reed has crafted a lovely and almost heartbreaking story about two men coping with loss. Both of them are young, one more so than the other, but each has had his world torn asunder. Loss affects everyone and this book, dealing with the loss of family, in both the physical and emotional aspects, hits its mark.
Vito, adjusting to the death of his son and husband, is bitter and has closed himself off to the possibility of love and hope. Henry, young and untried, has just learned his first lesson in life: that privileged doesn’t always mean perfect. The two men come together in grief and begin the path to healing with one another. I love that this takes place over a summer, across a few months, and that both men struggle accepting what is happening.
The breakdown of Henry’s family, the loss of his mother’s leaving, and his judgmental father are an all too real thing, and it hurt to read the words Tank spoke to his son. I nearly broke down and cried when Vito was telling his story about Kevin and Sal’s deaths due to a drunk driver, as well as the guilt Vito felt because of his last words to Kevin. Again, an ache but one that wasn’t forced—more real life incidents that both ripped me apart and made me adore the story all the more for the normality of it.
I would have loved a bit more story before the epilogue wrapped everything up, but I think that is more about me being greedy for the characters and story than it is a complaint about the book. The short chapter details what has been happening with both Vito and Henry, and leaves you with a feeling and sense of the hope both men needed.
Thank you for another fantastic read, dear author!
You can buy Dinner at Fiorello’s here: