Review by Darcie Czajkowski
Sydney Strauss is stuck in a rut. She works as a morning show producer, which is as close to a job in journalism as she could come after college. Though she longs to write about food, everything from cooking techniques to food trends, that world is tough to break in to and Sydney has bills to pay. But when network restructuring removes Sydney’s position, she gets a second chance to pursue her dream.
In the wake of her lay-off, Sydney starts working for a chauvinistic baker, known as “Rick the Prick,” at farmers’ markets around Washington D.C. While the gig doesn’t pay much, something is better than nothing when you’re unemployed and there’s no else to pay your rent. Before long, Sydney feels a part of the market, happily ensconced in the food world again. Her prospects improve even more when she is asked to write a weekly newsletter for the consortium of DC farmers’ markets, discussing what’s fresh at the markets, sharing a few recipes, and profiling market vendors.
While her professional life is on a slow upswing, her personal life remains questionable. Five years ago, her eight-year-long relationship ended when she found out that her boyfriend, Zach, cheated on her. Sydney hasn’t been able to move on and the break-up still feels like a fresh wound. Given that their friendship started in early adolescence, Sydney shared so many experiences with Zach that it’s hard to reconcile those memories with how the relationship ended: abruptly and without an apology for his dalliance.
So when Sydney encounters a man who shows interest in her, her insecurities bubble up to the surface and she is hesitant. But he persists and Sydney agrees to go out with him. To her surprise, she enjoys this man’s company until she goes home, Googles “Jeremy Brauer,” and learns exactly who he is: a former food writer for the Washington Chronicle, best known for his involvement in a “cash for comment” scandal.
But as her feelings heat up for Jeremy, so also does a story that could make Sydney’s career. She is on the verge of having everything she’s ever wanted: a new man in her life and a career as a food journalist. But when the two become inextricably linked, Sydney is headed for almost-certain disaster. Will she stop before it’s too late? Will her world explode? Or will she end up with everything she’s ever dreamed of?
Dana Bate’s A Second Bite at the Apple is all about second chances: at love, at work, in life. Dotted with Dana’s knack for spot-on dialogue and witty one-liners, this book is a smooth read from start to finish, punched with a satisfying conclusion. Though I found Sydney’s low self-esteem and pervasive self-deprecating comments to be a bit tiresome, I loved the storyline that kept me guessing. There were twists and turns around every corner, which I found to constantly propel the story forward. I didn’t feel like I was waiting for the story to start; it began at the very first page. Dana excels at vivid descriptions and adeptly draws real-life visuals of the settings, putting the reader in the same place as the characters. There is also an element of family drama built into this story, which I enjoyed. Growing up, we often have notions of our role in our family, and it’s not always an accurate view of reality. The story is a good reminder to never give up on those relationships; they are always worth fighting for. I’d highly recommend adding this book to your Christmas list.
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About the Author:
Dana Bate is the author of A SECOND BITE AT THE APPLE and THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and has been translated into five languages. Before writing fiction full time, she was a Washington producer and reporter for PBS's Nightly Business Report, where she won the Gerald Loeb Award for a series she produced on the Indian economy. She studied molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University and received her master's degree from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, where she won the Harrington Award for outstanding promise in the field of journalism. She lives outside Philadelphia with her family.
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