Julie & Julia and enjoying it, I decided to read her second book, Cleaving. Julie didn’t bother me that much in Julie & Julia but she lost any redeeming qualities in Cleaving. It was hard book for me to read.
After Julie’s success with Julie & Julia, she decides she wants to learn to be a butcher. It’s difficult to find a butcher that is willing to apprentice her. Finally Julie finds a shop willing to teach her how to become a butcher. Within the shop, Julie also finds a place to escape her life. For the last two years, Julie has been having an affair. Unable to leave her husband, Eric, or her lover, D, Julie finds an escape in butchering. There are 3 stories within this book. Julie attempting to become a butcher. Julie struggling between Eric and D. And Julie struggling with herself.
While reading this book, I was reminded by something Tai tells me all the time: Happiness is a choice. Through each page of the book, I really felt like Julie was choosing to be miserable. Some of it was to gain knowledge like a 4 hour round trip commute to the butcher shop in upstate New York. But I really felt like her affair was a choice to be unhappy. I really had a hard time with her adultery.
Reading the butchering parts was sometimes hard. Julie doesn’t hold anything back about describing the details involved with butchering beef, pork, turkeys. But as a carnivore, I decided that I had to read those parts. If I eat meat, I should understand how it gets to my table. I found the butchering parts to be very interesting. I learned a lot that will help me in the kitchen and in the butcher shop. There are some recipes sprinkled though the book highlighting the different cuts of meat the Julie butchered.
Reading Julie’s struggle with Eric and D was difficult for me. I have a hard time with adultery. I’m definitely a one man kind of woman. While I’ve read fiction and nonfiction where adultery is the topic, it’s usually the aftermath that’s dealt with. Julie was still with D for parts of Cleaving. She’d break up with him and get back together all while trying to maintain her relationship with Eric. I did not identify with her struggle and honestly it made me angry sometimes. For the last part of the book, Julie travels alone to the Ukraine, Tanzania, Argentina, and Japan. I enjoyed the travel part especially when she went to Tanzania. So much of Julie’s life has been wrapped up around Eric and D. Julie met Eric in high school and D in college. Julie hasn’t had a lot of time on her own. I think her traveling did her good. I still didn’t agree with her choices but I kind of understood them better.
Overall I can’t recommend this book. If you found Julie annoying in Julie and Julie, avoid Cleaving. It doesn’t get better. Others who shared their opinion of Cleaving: Solid Gold Eats, Celeste's Stories and Writing Adventures, In The Next Room, and Book A Week With Jen.
This was my sixteenth read for the Foodies Read 2 Challenge.