Life can be sweet or spicy, depending on who is there to share it with you. In her recent memoir, “Life without a Recipe,” Diana Abu-Jaber explores the intimate relationships in her life and how they were deeply affected by the pressures of two key figures in her life, her German grandmother Grace — who she describes as a lover of all things sugar — and her Arab father, Bud, who she emphasizes is a spice-loving man. Abu-Jaber discovers that it is not only food that divides her life between two cultures. Grace and Bud constantly offer contradictory “advice” to the then-young author that ultimately led to a journey of self-discovery later on in her life. Pressures regarding love and children urge Abu-Jaber into two brief marriages and finally a marriage with the outdoors-loving Scott who she feels fully satisfies her desires and not her father’s or grandmother’s. At the end of the day, Abu-Jaber learns to live life her own way rather than confine herself to the expectations of others. A review of “Life without a Recipe” by Lynne Rogers is scheduled to appear in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 71, 2016.
(Diana Abu-Jabber, photo © Scott Eason)