From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke
This book has been on my to read list for the longest time since its release in April 2019. Ever since my good friend Nicole told me how amazing this memoir was, I knew I had to read and add it to my list! It even became a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick for her May 2019 selection. If Reese Witherspoon says it’s good then I know it’s gonna be good, and it’s a New York Times bestseller. I had actually listened to the audiobook and it was narrated by the author herself! She has the most loveliest voice ever by the way! I listened to a little 2 minute sample and definitely had to dive in. Let’s get into what this memoir is all about.
About From Scratch:
The setting for this memoir is Sicily, Florence in Italy & L.A.
For Tembi and professional chef Saro, it was love at first sight when they first met on a street in Florence, Italy. The one problem they had though, was that Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black African American woman and also whose profession was in the acting field. But with all of that, Tembi and Saro although were heartbroken, they were undeterred and continued on to build a beautiful life together. A happy and fulfilling life in L.A, with deep friendships, great careers, and also adopting a baby girl. They eventually reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will threaten and consume all of their dreams.
From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown. In the wake of grief, Tembi finds solace and healing at her mother-in-law’s kitchen. She finds hope in the warm and inviting simple, fresh food, in the close knit community, in the timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. and the power of enduring love. She soon finds the strength to step into a new life.
In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Including 16 recipes drawn from the couple’s culinary adventures, From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a poignant reminder that life is, after all, delicious.
What a warm, devastating but hopeful read! This is such a perfect book to listen to while you cook or while doing house chores. I have to say that the audiobook was brilliant! Locke has the kindest and clearest voice and she told her own story really beautifully. Highly recommend the audiobook.
Very early on we are immediately transported to Florence where Tembi first meets Saro, a young chef and they instantly hit it off. What a whirlwind romance and setting we were taken on with this book! I don’t think I’ve ever felt as physically transported with a story as I did with this one. You felt as if you were right there with her in Italy throughout the entire book. Tembi spends three summers in Sicily with her daughter Zoela, after Saro’s death and these sections of the book were absolutely brilliant. The sights, the sounds, the air, the smells oh man, the food! Food is a massive feature in this book and I loved it! I heard that in the physical book, she actually includes 16 recipes that were drawn from Tembi and Saro’s culinary adventures. How amazing does that sound! I’ve never visited Sicily before but after this book I’m definitely going there.
The story itself of Locke’s life with Saro before he got cancer, during cancer and after Saro's death, was a combination of rich and pure classic romance. It was heartbreaking, devastating, but also hopeful and bittersweet. This book seriously felt like you were reading a fiction story! In the way that it was told. It was very descriptive and I had to remind myself that this stuff actually happened and it was her memoir. I was completely swept away in a wave of emotions while reading this book that’s for sure! It was a complete story of their shared life, their difficulties with their interracial relationship, dealing with life threatening illnesses, and also dealing with death itself and how to go on from such a life changing event. I loved Tembi and Saro’s relationship. It was just so utterly and damn romantic! If you’re a fan of sweeping romance then you will love this book. But also I loved how Locke described the years during Saro’s cancer treatment and Illness. Then the later soul-searching years after his death and the time she spent with her mother-in-law healing. She didn’t hold back and she tells us everything that she went through. It was definitely a complete story.
I loved the narration of this audiobook and the writing itself, it was beautiful and almost poetic. Especially sections where Locke would describe food, family, atmosphere, the weather, Sicily, it was all so rich and vibrant and I loved her use of words in this book! I definitely recommend this audiobook as it was narrated by the author herself. Quite a hard thing to do, to relive all the pain and heartbreak, I don’t know how she did it. I really don’t.
The only slight negative and it’s not even a negative really because I honestly loved this book so much! My teeny negative is that I felt towards the end that wow, this is a long book. I felt that it could have been a little shorter and I slightly almost lost interest but to be honest I was gripped the entire way through so it’s not that much of a negative. Also, the way this book read to me, felt like a fiction read, more like a story than an autobiography. It’s crazy how descriptive it was of so many little things! Things that a normal person probably wouldn’t remember lol so in a way, it almost felt like wow, really? She remembers all those tiny details? So yeah that’s my skeptical side talking, but all in all I freaking loved this book.
From Scratch is a memoir about finding your forever love, it’s a story about loss, grief, it’s about finding solace in family, food, and community, it’s about soul-searching and building a home away from home, it's about nourishment, forgiveness and how to start From Scratch to simply put it. This book was heartwarming, rich, earnest, but also it was completely devastating, emotional, and hopeful. Read this book if you love sweeping romance stories, read this book if you love culture, food and travelling, and read this book if you have experienced loss and grief because it does leave you feeling hopeful but also it is a bittersweet read. A definite unforgettable memoir. Loved it.
*Fun Fact* - Reese Witherspoon is currently turning this book into a limited series starring Zoe Saldana as Tembi Locke! How amazing! I cannot wait to watch it. Learn more about it here.
Also please watch this great 10 minute Reese Witherspoon Book Club IGTV starring Tembi Locke called ‘Cook the Book’ - Tembi reads and excerpts from the book & also they cook a yummy dish.
I knew very early on that I wanted a song by Sade. Sade is one of my all time favorite artists and voices. Her songs are so warming, soulful and nourishing just like this story. For the song, I wanted one of her most beautiful songs about devotion, love and the ups and downs about relationships. She has so many great songs, it was almost impossible to pick one, but for this particular story, I chose her beautiful mellow tune, 'By Your Side'. Ugh I love this song! Please watch the music video, it’s so beautiful and tender. Lovely song.
Genre: Autobiography | Memoir
Pages: 339 Pages
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster