It has been more than a year since a tragic accident took the life of Nick Roy, husband of Rose-Ellen (Zell). Nick was photographing a local relief group as they volunteered in post-Katrina New Orleans. He was fatally injured on a construction site so Zell never got to say goodbye. She’s still grieving his loss and doesn’t seem to want to move forward. Her days are filled with tending her rescued greyhound and working on medical drawings for clients while Gladys Knight and the Pips wail away on the phonograph. Everything reminds her of Nick.
Zell meets her new neighbors, nine year old Ingrid and her dad Garrett, after her oven catches fire and they call the fire department. Ingrid misses a mother she never knew and pretty much attaches herself to Zell. Garrett works full time and goes to law school. When a childcare issue comes up Zell agrees to let Ingrid hang out with her and that’s when they decide to enter a baking contest hosted by a Boston tv show which happens to star the woman Ingrid thinks is her mother.
Nick’s friends were also on the relief trip and feel a great loss. Nick’s father requested the funeral be private (for family only) which left his friends with a lack of closure. They would like Zell to talk about him but try not to pressure her too much. She’d like to do almost anything else but talk about him. Her immense grief is palpable.
Alicia Bessette’s heartfelt debut novel is about people living with great loss. It’s about the friendship they share and how they can help each other to grieve, accept, and truly live life again. One of Bessette’s characters says “We are all connected” and Simply From Scratch is a wonderful reminder.