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Travel Book Club: From Scratch Discussion

Eden Book Club: From Scratch Discussion

I’ve previously described From Scratch as one of the best female travel memoirs ever written and I still stand by that claim. From Scratch is a nuanced, personal account of actress and activist Tembi Locke’s life. It is a love story, first and foremost. From Scratch is about falling in love, being in love, fighting for love, and choosing love.

The story is written tenderly and delicately. It is a narrative of multiple generations, loss, grief, food, and healing. Sicily is there too, ever-present even in the pages set in LA.

I’d love to hear all your thoughts on From Scratch (don’t let the fact that this is one of my favorite books deter you from sharing your honest opinions)!

Book Club Discussion Guidelines

Discussion posts (like this one) will have a series of questions as starting points. But honestly, you can talk about whatever you want regarding the books (or questions). You don’t have to answer all (or any) of the questions. I’d still love to hear your thoughts!

You can join in regardless of whether you’ve read, not read, or DNF’d the book! I understand that not everyone has the time to read or finish the book so I try to include a general discussion question as well to make the discussions more inclusive.

From Scratch Discussion Questions

  • How familiar were you with the author (Tembi Locke) and her story before reading From Scratch?
  • The timeline of From Scratch shifts between past and present, between tender memories and future summers. How do you feel about the way Tembi structured her memoir?
  • Tembi also shares some of thoughts, origins, and stories of those she loves fiercely, cares for, is fond of, and appreciates. How do you feel about the placement of these perspectives?
  • What did you learn from Tembi’s perspective as an African-American woman in Italy?
  • Is there anything that surprised you about Sicilian culture?
  • How does Tembi and Nonna’s relationship change over the course of the book? Which of the moments described in From Scratch do you think pivoted and opened up their relationship?
  • How do you feel about Tembi Locke’s descriptions of Sicily (and Italy and Italian food)?
  • From Scratch is split into multiple sections; each one begins with a Sicilian proverb. How do these proverbs strengthen, reflect, or summarize each part of the book?
  • From Melanzane Alla Parmigiana to Salsa Pronta, there are several recipes listed in From Scratch. Did you try any of them?
  • This memoir is getting adapted into a Netflix series! Have you seen the trailer? (I’ll link it here) How do you feel about the trailer? What are you looking forward to in the adaptation?
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sincerely anshula

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Of course, these are just starter questions. There are no right or wrong answers. Feel 100% free to discuss anything regarding the book (or otherwise). I’ll be jumping in and responding as well!

6 Comments

  • Maya
    September 30, 2022 at 7:11 AM

    This was such a beautiful book. It was unlike any travel memoir I had read in the past. Many of the sadder travel memoirs I have read are overwhelmingly heavy on loss but From Scratch let love take the stage and by choosing that Tembi Locke is able to share an uplifting detailed story of healing.

    I liked the descriptions of Italy a lot. I didn’t get immersed in the descriptions since Saro’s impending death and then death loomed throughout the story but there were moments when I felt the pull of Italy. I wanted to go back. I also liked how Locke reflected on motherhood and how she was navigating motherhood after the loss of her partner.

    Reply
    • Anshula Varma
      October 6, 2022 at 6:33 AM

      Hey Maya, thank you for sharing! I definitely agree that Tembi focused on love more than loss (though loss was a big aspect of the book). I cry pretty easily when it comes to books like this and I didn’t so much for this one, so I kept wondering why (since there were so many sad elements). Your comment helped me realize it’s because I felt like Tembi doesn’t write as though Saro is gone forever. She writes about Saro’s passions and recipes and family and Sicily. And for me, personally, I felt as though Saro lived on through these things (and she was able to find healing through these things that connected to Saro).

      If it’s not too personal to ask, what moments did you feel the pull of Italy? Where in Italy would you love to revisit?

      Reply
  • Danelle Michaud
    October 2, 2022 at 9:40 AM

    I am sure this book has touched all the internet viewers, its really really fastidious piece of writing.

    Reply
    • Anshula Varma
      October 6, 2022 at 6:35 AM

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Danelle! It was a touching story 😊

      Reply
  • Roy
    October 3, 2022 at 8:48 AM

    I hadn’t seen Tembi Locke but I had heard of the book from Reese’s book club. I thought the way the story was framed was interesting. I expected it to be a before and after structure. The love story and then the after. I didn’t expect the during. I didn’t expect it to go back and forth. The grief was introduced earlier than I expected and that made the book more difficult to read.

    Reply
    • Anshula Varma
      October 6, 2022 at 6:39 AM

      That’s an interesting observation Roy! Tembi Locke’s memoir isn’t always told linearly. I personally liked that because love stories aren’t always linear. They don’t always follow a straight path and I liked how the structure seemed to reflect its messiness. But I also do see how, given the story’s structure and the early introduction of Saro’s death, the book can be more heavy to read.

      Reply

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