J. Ryan Stradal weaves together several stories in Kitchens of the Great Midwest by establishing connections between characters’ relationships, passions, and overall life journeys. Food seems to tie the novel (and characters) together, much like it does in real life. The book spans many years, which allows readers to get to know the characters. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and the book does grapple with a few heavy topics. It is surprising, engaging, and yet relatable and realistic. A great read for any foodie or someone looking for a fresh take on realistic fiction.