So somehow, when my dating life finally seems to be going well (really well – can you see my smile from there?), I find these great books like Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair that deal with break-ups. I think there’s something to this – maybe I can just hear what these books have to say now. In any case, they’re great.

And I just finished another wonderful one – Blue Jelly by Debby Bull. I will admit that it’s not the best writing I’ve ever read – at times, Bull loses me completely, like a train of thought or crucial transition accidentally got deleted – but all of that gets overridden by the sentiment and concept of the book.

In short, after Bull’s boyfriend leaves, she begins canning – making jelly, jam, blueberry butter, etc – and finds this therapeutic. In the book she details her emotional recovery and intersperses directions for canning various things. The recipes are solid and wittily conveyed, and at moments, Bull is prescient for anyone who has had a broken heart (and who hasn’t?)

For instance, she says:

You get to practice restraint when you make jelly; the juice drips in an agonizingly slow way from the jelly bag, and you just have to wait. Crabapple juice is a dream pink. I’ve found that when you’re really devastated, it’s the best color to wear. People don’t want to cream you when you’re wearing pink. Instead, they’ll ask you if you need anything, which is probably a far cry from the way Bob was treating you when he left.

The book is falling into a tradition of books by women who are empowering themselves to survive life’s heartbreaks by using the tools women have often used – food, yarn, and conversation. These may be things feminism should not have been so quick to discard. Is it really bad to be in the kitchen if we choose to put ourselves there?

So pick up Bull’s book for the recipes and the insight – and the laughs (those that may even come through tears). And if you’re down, make something – apple butter, bread, a scarf . . . Love yourself back; this seems key.

Cover of Blue Jelly by Debby BullBlue Jelly by Debby Bull