Marthese reviews Stir-fry by Emma Donoghue

stirfry“In what day in what month of this queue of years would she find that she had become a rootless stranger, a speck in the urban sprawl?”

– Stir-fry page 13

If there was one book that I read and I thought ‘this book is me’, this book is it. It is a book that stayed with me and even if I someday forget what the story was about, I will never forget how much I enjoyed reading it and relating to the story.

Stir-fry was Donoghue’s debut novel and is set in Dublin, Ireland. It is about Maria, a university student, who goes to live with Ruth and Jael who at first she does not realize they are a couple. Maria is very innocent and always  tries to help but you see her develop and mature, in a way, this novel is also a coming-of-age novel.

It is interesting to see how Maria interacts differently with Ruth who is really sweet  and just needs someone to talk to and Jael who has a more rebellious streak and usually tries to rope Maria into fun activities and how she interacts with them as a couple. To an extent, they become so familiar with one another that they become a trio.

Maria stays with the couple and she grows up in a short period of time. We see her force herself to have relationships with people but in the end, in a plot twist that you realize made sense at the end, she ends up with someone really lightly and in a relationship I imagine full of respect.

I like how the book is divided. Ruth likes cooking and cooking brings all three together so the chapters are divided in the steps required to make a stir-fry and it makes sense! Especially because a stir-fry is the first meal that Ruth cooks for them when Maria goes to see the flat.  The story is set in the past so not contemporary and the physical space is both cozy in the flat but also big in the city and you see her attitude change more even how she feels about returning to her small home, so in a way there is psychological distance to who she used to be.

I definitely would have liked a sentence or two about what happened to characters after Maria stopped interacting with them. The book also has a bit of an open ending, but I definitely recommend this book to people that like psychological elements in books, to people that love Ireland and coming of age stories. Emma Donoghue is probably one of my favourite authors for the reason that she writes so brilliantly but also relatable.

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