The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
J. Ryan Stradal won my heart with the novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest (read my review here) by weaving together a story of family, tragedy, strength, and food.
In his upcoming release The Lager Queen of Minnesota, readers once again journey to the midwest and this time we follow the lives of three women determined to succeed, though their definitions of success are wildly different based on their values.
Sisters Edith and Helen haven’t spoken in years. Their father left the family farm to Helen who used the profits to turn her husband’s family business into the top brewery in the state. Helen planned to share half of the farm’s profits with Edith once the brewery became a success but somehow she never got around to it.
Meanwhile, Edith has been living a quiet life with her husband. She’s raised two children and worked at a local nursing home for forty years baking pies that become famous in the Twin Cities. When a hipster magazine names her pies the third-best in the state, suddenly people are lining up for the chance to eat dinner at St. Anthony-Waterside Nursing Home!
Life throws a curveball when Edith’s husband becomes ill and retires but Edith finds a fresh start with a new job and they move closer to the city and their children.
After some devastating events, Edith finds herself raising her only grandchild, Diana, alone.
While Edith should be enjoying retirement, she’s working two jobs at Arby’s and Kohl’s to support them.
Diana is struggling to help her grandmother as best she can, working part-time when she’s not in school. When life throws another unexpected hardship at them, Diana finds a new way to earn fast cash by stealing expensive tools from wealthy neighborhoods. She thinks her life is over when she’s caught but really it’s the beginning of a bright future.
Instead of an arest, Diana is given the opportunity to pay back her debt by working at a local brewery where she finds an unexpected passion for brewing.
We follow Edith, Helen, and Diana across decades through their success and hardships that eventually lead them together.
It’s a heartbreakingly realistic story of scraping by to barely make ends meet while finding your passion and your purpose. This is another fantastic story by Stradal who has created a signature style of storytelling with a focus on family, values, and strong women overcoming the odds.
While Kitchens focused on food with stunning detail, Lager Queen obviously focuses on beer and includes fascinating detail on the history of craft beer and the brewing process. Both are heart warming, poignant, and genuine with the comfort of food/beer making it all the more relatable for readers.
I adore this author and both of his novels and highly recommend them to readers who appreciate realistic family sagas with strong and relatable/quirky characters!
Thanks to Pamela Dorman Books and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review. The Lager Queen of Minnesota is scheduled for release on July 23, 2019.