The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal (3 out of 5)

This was an odd one. It got a lot of accolades and it was heavily favored as one of the books of the summer in 2019. I’m not sure I echo that enthusiasm.

I read this back in August, when I had just started at the new store and was overwhelmed. It was a great book to read while figuring out the commute up there. It’s still out in hardback, should be paperback before this summer is over.

The age old quandary of who gets what in the event of a death finds another venue in this novel. Their father’s death brings Helen and Edith to other sides of the family line when he leaves the entire inheritance to Helen. She buys a light beer brewery and makes a small fortune on it. Meanwhile, older sister Edith is barely making ends meet and has to bust her ass most of her life, when a little bit of the inheritance would have helped her out. Edith’s granddaughter Diana has the family head for business (IPA’s, in particular) and she knows how to hustle and perhaps make a go of things. Can her determination bring her grandma some relief in her later years? Can Edith forgive Helen for being such a go-getter and cold hearted, or has the damage been done? Will Diana’s modern day business sense start a whole new family business for the next generation, and can she reconcile the two sisters?

Here’s what I liked- Edith, Diana, & learning about beer and how that business works. Stradal really nailed it with the portrayals of working class Midwest, the estrangement of two radically different sisters, and how the new generation can take the ball and run in regards to making a business run.

Here’s what I didn’t like- Helen. No matter how hard I tried to connect emotionally with the character, I just ended up beating my head into a wall. I loathed the character. And despite how Stradal ends the novel, I just felt there was something missing. Really missing. It was hard to give two shits when you want to beat the shit out of one of the main characters. So, I give mad props to Stradal in writing a character who left a big gaping hole where a heart should have been.

~ by generationgbooks on February 18, 2020.

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