How to Party with an Infant

How to Party with an Infant is one of the titles that chef and single mom Mele Bart considers for her entry in the San Francisco Mother's Club cookbook writing contest. It's also the title that Kaui Hart Hemmings (The Descendants) has given this novel of friendship and parenthood in the Bay Area.

When Mele told Bobby, her daughter Ellie's father, that she was pregnant, he decided that was the right time to announce that he was engaged to someone else. Now Ellie is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want her to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele has reluctantly agreed to let Ellie participate, but as the wedding approaches she needs an outlet for her nervous energy. The cookbook project presents itself at just the right time.

After the San Francisco Mother's Club's first few attempts to place Mele and Ellie in a playgroup didn't take, they have finally landed in the right group of misfits. As Mele digs into the contest's exhaustive entry questionnaire, she decides to approach the project as a collaboration with the other parents, who are eager to support her. They'll tell her a personal story, and she'll create a recipe inspired by it.

This framework gives How to Party With an Infant a structure of linked stories, with Mele's all-too-revealing responses to the contest questionnaire and excerpts from threads on the Club's message boards functioning as the connective tissue between them. Hemmings has not included recipes in this novel built around writing a cookbook, but she's packed it with plenty of humor, heart and true-to-life dialogue. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness

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