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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Patty Friedmann's One Knife, One Fork, One Spoon is the story of a woman's troubled family life and the mistakes she makes along the way. Renna Newman's humdrum life with her husband, Richard, a lawyer, and their four children hit a snag when, one day, her seventeen-year-old son, Frankie, calls her to get him out of juvenile custody. It leads Renna to meet Mason Landry, Frankie's best friend, who has an affinity for Russian literature. Renna feels unseen by Richard, and after discovering an irresistible attraction for Mason, she puts her efforts into seducing him, ending up having an illicit affair with the young man. Meanwhile, she hires another man to paint the house who somehow saves Frankie's life after a suicide attempt. With her family and life falling apart, will Renna ever find her way back?
A bittersweet tragedy laced with a sprinkling of dark humor, One Knife, One Fork, One Spoon is a must-read for readers who savor rich, character-driven stories with lots of emotional depth and complexity. Patty Friedmann manages to get the reader into the headspace of Renna, a multilayered protagonist with flaws and vulnerabilities that make her feel like an actual person. The narrative is somewhat of a slow burn, but that makes it all the more immersive for the reader. Friedmann's handling of the relationships between Renna and the other characters is nuanced and thoroughly absorbing, particularly the dynamic between Renna and Mason. I also had some laughs reading Renna's monologues, which, at times, I found absolutely hilarious. The ending is bittersweet but satisfying. This book is tailor-made for literary fiction enthusiasts who love stories featuring compelling characters with a narrative centered around dysfunctional families.