by J Ryan Stradal
What a delightful find this story was! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I lived in Minnesota for 4 years, so the setting of the story warmed the cockles of my heart from the start. This is a local story with nationwide appeal. It all starts with a girl and her first taste of beer. She likes it, and becomes obsessed with learning how to make it. There’s another girl in another decade who steals to support herself and her grandmother, and she is saved by a brewery.
It’s less about actually making beer and more about messed-up family dynamics and the rise of the IPA craze. But it’s also a little bit about making beer. I don’t personally drink much beer at all (wine girl here), but I still loved this story. I can only imagine the joy for someone who understands all the hops and details about stouts, lagers, ciders and beers.
The story felt small and cosy – very manageable – but the emotional impact was huge. I loved the varied characters, the interconnectedness of an industry, the power of family and the inspiring drive of a girl with a dream.
Plus, if you are Minnesotan, you will literally know some of the characters in this story. I mean, they are not people the author created and stuck into his setting in Minnesota. They are very Minnesotan characters. They behave in very Minnesotan ways. This is the icing on the cake. If you don’t get the Minnesotan way of doing things, you will still love the cake of the story. The icing is just extra for those of you who will get it.
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