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I really liked the concept of this book and couldn't wait to read it once I read a review. I am from MN and live here today. The phenomena of craft brewing in MN is really something. To read the family story of distrust anger and forgiveness was good & the work ethic of women who started breweries was quite interesting. But the constant swearing starting 1/3 of the way in was irritating. It added nothing to the book and was distracting. It was also not true to older women who are from and live in MN. They may swear but not constantly. I should know. I am an older woman and know lots of them. If the author writes another book, I would for sure pass it by as I have no desire to read the words over and over. It is impossible to ignore.
As a Minnesota resident, I was so hopeful about this book, especially after reading the reviews. But I found the jumping about in time a bit jarring, some characters underdeveloped, and the beer information not easily accessible. I think this book would be better enjoyed by someone who already has a fairly good understanding of the various kinds of beer. For example, it would be better if you know what a lager is vs. an IPA before you start. I had to stop several times to look up background info on beers on the internet to understand what was going on. Admittedly - I know next to nothing about beers, as a wine drinker, so I may not be the target audience!
Otherwise - a pleasant enough read. The womens’ lives and how they worked through tough times was the most interesting to me. As a St Paul resident, fun to see references to places I know.
Fittingly, this story started and ended with the two sisters, Edith and Helen. But about halfway through, we lost track of Helen, and Edith became a minor character, replaced by Diana. I was okay with the new focus on Diana until she blundered into a career path (trying to avoid a spoiler here) that was simply too coincidental to be plausible. The plot became even more unlikely a bit later when the author suddenly added several new characters--all supposedly cute grandmothers--and way too much detail about beer. At this point, I began to count the pages until the end.
The character of Diana was inconsistent. For example, after she struggled for years to have a baby, the actual birth was skipped over, and the long-wanted child (and its father) were barely mentioned the rest of the book. And after having been assiduously coached in the careful brewing of craft beer (pages and pages of this!), Diana suddenly started bottling and selling products brewed by first-time amateurs. I found myself confusing Diana with the young Helen, but I don't know if the similarity was intentional or not.
By the time old Helen came back into the picture, I had forgotten her backstory. I'm surprised an editor didn't point out to the author that there would have been several more-believable ways to get these three women together and into the same industry.
The poignant ending did bring a tear or two, but the story could have been better.
There were parts of the story I really enjoyed, and parte I just wanted to end. I liked the smaller stories within the main story, but didn't like the main story as much. It took about half the book for me to get into it, but once they started talking more about craft beer, I didn't want to put it down. Being born, raised, and still living in the Midwest really kept me interested in the book and the mentions of some of my favorite breweries in the area as well. The slowness of some parts is due to the star rating reduction, as well as the lack of likeability of almost all characters, but maybe that was the point. I will admit, I came close to tears at the end and wished there was more to the story.
Inspired by a true story, this novel is about women breaking into the brewery business because one woman really liked beer when she stole her first can at age 14. She obsessed over making beer and majored in chemistry to that end. There she met the son of a former beer brewing dynasty . But she is connected to other women and they to yet more women--none of whom drank beer but as grandmothers liked to cook and work with other women, work hard. Self-taught, they started mixing unusual fruit-hoops-malt- concoctions and started a trend. This is a feminist book that is written with wit and charm about the stoic women with incredible work ethics and love of family and each other. Heart warming book.
I’m a native Minnesotan and found it a bit hokey. It was an easy read and read it as a part of a book club. I didn’t get why the author referenced places like Hastings or New Ulm, which actually exist, but the characters live in fake places like New Stockholm, New Avon, and Nicollet Falls. I did learn a bit about beer making and loved that our book club host had us meet at a local brew pub. I tried an IPA for the first time ever but enjoyed the ciders and ales more. Overall, I’m glad I Read it.
This story is interesting and different following several characters in the same family. You spend a lot of the book on build up to the end and then it sort if just drops off. I did not realize the author is a man writing about women. It felt a little awkward in some of the character development which might have come from that strange male view of a woman but not sure. It was okay. I did drink more beer!
It’s well written however I had a really hard time keeping the character straight and couldn’t remember who was who. Also I was told the book was very uplifting and would make me laugh out loud but I did not find an uplifting and found it actually quite depressing.
I loved Edith—she is head and shoulders one of the best characters ever. She is a five-star character! Unfortunately one of the main plot drivers was beer making and I did not enjoy that part at all. If you would enjoy reading about beer creating and brewing, this will be a great book for you.
Interesting history of Midwest beer making with the intertwined legacy of family, of women and the love/hate struggles that bind. Especially meaningful to someone who grew up in the area and remembers the brands that have faded away.