HOME MADE: A STORY OF GRIEF, GROCERIES, SHOWING UP—AND WHAT WE MAKE WHEN WE MAKE DINNER by Liz Hauck is a must-read memoir about a young woman, a teacher, who commits to a project in order to feel closer to and understand her dad after he dies unexpectedly at the young age of fifty-seven.
For almost three years, Liz shows up one night a week to teach young men who are under the state’s care to cook and share a dinner. Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they feel like cooking, but mostly they want to eat as much as they want. Liz keeps showing up, creating an experience of reliability and routine that most of the guys fought to trust. Every week, she asks them about their week, how school is going, how she can help, and more. Liz’s personal journey through grief slowly becomes a journey of self-discovery and understanding about her privileges. To pay tribute to her father, she ends up paying tribute to each of these young men she encountered, and they constantly “schooled the teacher,” all lessons Liz willingly explored. She appreciates why her father had always stressed that life isn’t fair, and the only person responsible for fixing her life was Liz.
I fell in love with each of these young men and ached for them and the lifelong challenges they faced because of systemic racism. I doubt I’ll ever forget them.
I was drawn to Liz’s memoir because, as many of you know, my mother, Bonnie Case, died of COVID-19 on December 7, 2020. Whereas Liz first dealt with her grief by taking on a cooking project she’d discussed with her dad before he died, I decided to finish a quilt my mother started several years ago for me—a quilt she had to put aside once she had Parkinson’s disease. I wanted to know if and how Liz’s decision worked out; I was selfishly looking for guidance, validation, or reassurance about my grief. Instead, I read the last page with a desire to commit to my community. This memoir is a tribute to the Leons, Wesleys, Franks, Jamess, Josephs, and Carloses, and people like Liz and her father who always said if you want something to change and you have the power to do so, change it.
Thanks for being you, Liz Hauck.
Thank you The Dial Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.