The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

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“Why won’t you just tell me what’s in that cake?” I’d been trying to get Laine’s recipe for years. We all had.

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food—especially dessert— is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family— even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a sweet, relaxing, immersive, genuine read. I enjoyed it as an audiobook, narrated by Nan Kelley, who was perfect for this book. I think those looking for a pondering of sorts, both mild and deep, this look at friendship, illness, grief, motherhood, inadequacies, acceptance, relational tensions, and life appreciation and milestone celebrations will enjoy this one. Would make for an interesting book club discussion.

The Story
Set in the South, I liked the shell of the story, the Southern friendship elements. Ones of close-knit community, banter, teasing, inside jokes.

It touched on love, belonging, grief, loss, perception, expectations, betrayal, sarcasm, difficulties in navigating hardships in life. Community, appreciation, the precious things, things that bring laughter and joy.

Crawfish boil, humidity, mosquitoes, bake sales, this book has it all and I devoured all that it had to offer.

Loved the Southern sayings, the icing on the cake.

The Writing
I loved the writing. It felt cloud-like, purposeful, delicate yet strong in conciseness, intention, and meaning.

Pacing
Pacing was nice. It was perfect, but somewhat sort of slow at points, but absolutely fitting, noting how some actionable parts were a bit drawn out, but the propulsion was there as the approach was easing and not forceful in the reveal of what was going to happen next. It felt natural. Both in overall narration and dialogue.

Tone
First bits were more of controlling, possessive tone of most everyone, which I think I can’t tell if clever or just less polished because it all did break down, become deconstructed as I got to know the characters more and maybe later that sense of cohesion and closeness became more full circle toward the end.

Loved the food descriptions and all the food elements and theme.

Favorite Lines
“It wasn’t a person’s age that made death sad. It was the size of the absence it caused in the ones left behind.”

View all my reviews

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