The Lager Queen of Minnesota - February Buddy Read
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2019, 349 pages
Can I just say: What a great cover! So nice to see something that isn't a woman walking away or looking away, etc. Graphic and illustrative, this is an excellent cover.
Now, about the book: The book is also excellent - 2 for 1! I loved this book - a quiet story about normal, average people going through their lives, revolving around the women that hold the families together. Estranged sisters, a disputed inheritance, a granddaughter in trouble - three strong women, real and simple and straightforward, living their lives, each in their own way make this such a great story.
Edith, the younger sister, needs some money to open a brewery (which is her passion) so she arranges to keep all of the family inheritance, not sharing any with older sister Helen. Edith goes on to have her brewery and make a popular, cheap, local beer. Helen works hard trying to make ends meet working multiple jobs her whole life. Along the way she discovers her super power - she takes care of people, AND, she's a phenomenal baker. We don't learn much about her daughter, but her granddaughter, Diana, is an excellent character and maybe the star of the show.
“Well, the vast majority of people don't steal to get ahead. A lot of people work their way up from nothing without stealing." Diana said, "I don't think a lot of people work their way up from nothing, ever. People like you want to believe it happens all the time. But it really doesn't.”
We meet her in high school when she goes to live with her Grandma and finish school. They often don't have money so Diana does what she can to help with the bills. Circumstances put her working at a brewery and she discovers she has an aptitude and a desire to become a brewmaster. Do you see where this might end up?
If you enjoy generational family sagas, this is a book for you. Starting with the two sisters at odds with each other, a daughter and granddaughter, and then a great-granddaughter! Lots of women populate this story, but it's not overly sweet or bitchy, just a solid story. Sometimes the resolutions to problems seem a bit cut-and-dried or told very succinctly, but that's reflective of the midwestern way. My mother-in-law was an Indiana woman and I learned they generally don't wear their heart on their sleeves, and if there's something to be done, they roll up their sleeves and do it! That was certainly on display in these female characters.
Donna and I both enjoyed this book immensely. However, she did mention that the structure of the story bothered her a bit. Each chapter focuses on a different character and moves their particular part of the story forward. That's not so unusual; but, it also skips around in time, making it hard to follow the story in a linear way. I didn't find it distracting, but we'll put it out there in case that sort of story format isn't your cup of tea.
Highly recommended - even if you don't care about beer (I don't), this is a book to savor.