With Thanksgiving behind us, the winter holiday season looms large and with it more family meals and big, savory dishes. The holidays can be a dangerous time for folks with dietary restrictions. I am lucky to be able to have a family that is willing to accommodate me. As it is, I won’t be able to eat a single thing at the office holiday party coming up. Often, this is the case. The best way to survive the holidays and avert disaster is to plan and prepare in advance.
For this, I would like to share some of my holiday survival menu for those adhering to the fodmap diet and trying to avoid gastric distress this holiday season.
It was beyond my wildest dreams that Carry On by Rainbow Rowell would ever come to be. The story is a fictional one that takes place within a fictional world. It began as a story within a story. The fictional Simon Snow books factor heavily into Rowell’s novel Fangirl, where the protagonist Cath obsesses over the series with devotion, going so far as to write and publish online elaborate fanfiction entitled Carry On. And here we are.
Carry On is pretty meta. I went into it expecting a fun ride, but Rowell really fleshed this story out. Carry On stands completely on its own, apart from Fangirl. This novel is a delight to read. The book is essentially a parody of every Chosen One story that’s ever been written. It takes the trope and turns it on its head. The world is one in which words, words themselves, carry real power: magic spells are phrases, lyrics, bits of poetry that have had an impact on the public consciousness. For example, Up, up and away is used to levitate an object or Clean as a whistle gets rid of messes. There is also a particularly intense moment involving a nursery rhyme and a dragon. The mechanics of the World of Mages is fascinating and innovative. It was fun to discover the ways in which language could translate into spellcraft.
The first thing you need to know is that Libba Bray is a novel writing goddess. Her creativity knows no bounds. From what I read of her novels, spinning complex and intricate stories is just her thing. She is very, very good at it. Lair of Dreams is the second novel in the Diviners series, an eerie supernatural adventure series set in 1920s New York. I am most impressed by the scope of Bray’s novels. These are big, sprawling books, 600+ pages, filled with not just a handful but an entire cast of fully formed protagonists, all with different goals, motivations, desires, and secrets. Her ability to successfully explore all these vastly different characters, flesh them out, and make the audience care deeply about them is a feat. The scope of the story itself is gargantuan. It’s a weaving tale with many moving parts and subplots all serving an overarching mega plot (Project Buffalo, I’m looking at you).
Stephanie Perkins is really good at making me cry. Isla and the Happily Ever After is the third book in what could be called a series of beautiful love stories. Perkins writes young love, but she does it right. She makes it feel poignant, true, and incredibly real. She just perfectly encapsulates the essence of love. I don’t even quite understand how she does it, but the situations her characters get in, the way they react, the way they feel and internalize: it is the most honest rendering of what it feels like to fall in love and be in love. It’s so refreshing.
The two books preceding this one are Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. All three books take place within the same universe and there is overlap with the characters. I would say the third book ties everything together quite nicely.