Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Lucy Knisley
Illustrator: Lucy Knisley
Publisher: First Second
Lucy doesn’t remember things in the traditional way. Instead, her most significant memories are those that are related to food. It is the remembrance of the taste and experience of eating food that allows her to string together moments from her upbringing and explore how she eventually arrived in adulthood. Lucy grew up with food-enthusiast parents and was taught from a young age about high-quality cuisine. Unlike other kids, Lucy ate the fancy foods that her parents ate and was able to participate in the dinner parties with adults who saw food as a way of life. Eventually, Lucy develops a way of interacting with food that is all her own and finds her own tastes and preferences. Some of her eating is influenced by her childhood and the tastes of her parents, but much of it is all her own and shows that she has her own “relish” for the exploration of food and self.
Relish is graphic novel and memoir that deals with author and artist Lucy Knisley’s childhood and adolescence, making it a fun and unique coming-of-age story that could be inspiring and familiar to young adult readers. With each story Knisley tells, she includes recipes for re-creating some of the dishes she mentions and her own personal comments on how to make the recipe succeed. There are a few recipes for beverages containing alcohol, which would be the only portion of the book that would suggest it is not directed specifically to young adult readers. However, the rest of the book is relatable enough to make it a potentially intriguing read for young adult readers. Also, parents should be advised that one of the characters discovers and then views pornography, but none of the explicit images are recreated. The art is simple yet endearing, and the story is poignant. Not only is this a heartfelt and sometimes humorous memoir, but it also calls readers to action, encouraging them to engage with food in a new way.
*Contains mild sexual content.