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Much love for 'All You Can Dream Buffet' by Barbara O'Neal

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All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal


Yes, here's a spoiler of my review - I loved this book!

I don't know how Barbara O'Neal does it but each book she writes is truly amazing - offering complex stories of women's lives with her rich use of language. All You Can Dream Buffet is no exception.

What's different about this story is that we follow four women on their journeys. They've been friends for years yet they've never met in real life. The only thing these women appear to have in common is that they are all successful food bloggers. Lavender is the oldest and failing health has her concerned with how to ensure sustainability of her dream. Her idea is to throw herself a birthday party, invite her friends and figure out which one of them will take over.

But it's never as easy as it seems. Ginny, a cake blogger who's never left Kansas, isn't ready to deal with her family issues until she begins to realize how much she's missed by not following her dreams. Ruby, is young and pregnant and not a little bit flighty. She's been protected by her father since she was diagnosed with cancer as a child, but she needs roots and a place to finally call her own. Val, the former ballerina turned wine blogger, has already embarked on her own journey with her daughter to help them both move on after tragedy breaks up their family. Sadly, it appears that Val will miss the party and reunion.

It's not far into the book before we learn more about each of these women and begin to realize that each of them are unhappy in their lives in profoundly different ways. What we don't know is whether they will have the courage to look for what they want and - even harder - accept it when they find it. What these women have in common is that they are us. Each of us, in some way and at some point in our lives, have been these women. Their lives speak to our own and perhaps help create a landscape for our future.

Don't worry about this becoming a tiresome book that requires more of you than you want to give, because it's not. It's a delightful book that made me laugh just as much as it made me cry. These characters make some hard choices, but this story also looks at what it means to live in the virtual world of blogging, addressing the theme of community in many ways and questioning - How well do we know each other? Are we actually friends? How much should we share with one another?

Throughout the story I rooted for each woman in turn to be the one to take over from Lavender. I became sad when I realized 'my choice' wouldn't be the one but at that point it didn't matter. I was propelled further and further into the story and learned more about the lives of these women, more about my own, and more about what future we might create.