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My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


A national bestseller and winner of a Living Now Book Award, Stir is an exquisite memoir about how food connects us to ourselves, our lives, and each other.
At 28, Jessica Fechtor was happily immersed in graduate school and her young marriage, and thinking about starting a family. Then one day, she went for a run and an aneurysm burst in her brain. She nearly died. She lost her sense of smell, the sight in her left eye, and was forced to the sidelines of the life she loved.

Jessica’s journey to recovery began in the kitchen as soon as she was able to stand at the stovetop and stir. There, she drew strength from the restorative power of cooking and baking. Written with intelligence, humor, and warmth, Stir is a heartfelt examination of what it means to nourish and be nourished. 

Woven throughout the narrative are 27 recipes for dishes that comfort and delight. For readers of M.F.K.Fisher, Molly Wizenberg, and Tamar Adler, as well as Oliver Sacks, Jill Bolte Taylor, and Susannah Cahalan, Stir is sure to inspire, and send you straight to the kitchen.

From Publishers Weekly

May 04, 2015 – A sudden brain aneurysm and subsequent infection derailed the life plans of Fechtor, a 28-year-old married Harvard grad student, requiring her to undergo a new orientation toward food and the senses. In this straightforward chronicle of her collapse at the treadmill in 2008 while at a convention in rural Vermont, Fechtor relives a painful, confusing episode in the trauma center in Burlington, where she had surgery to stop the bleeding, lost vision in her left eye, and endured a stint in rehab. Buoyed by her devoted husband, Eli, and her Ohio-based family, Fechtor was in excellent hands, and food was brought and offered for healing and comfort, such as Aunt Leslie's chicken soup. But once she got home to Cambridge, Mass., many of her favorite foods had lost their appeal, like the almond macaroons from her local Hi-Rise bakery. After a raging infection, requiring surgery that took out a portion of her forehead and left her without a sense of smell, a period of "medium dreadful" settled in and she sometimes panicked at her debilitation. Plastic surgery eventually reconstructed her face, and Fechtor slowly returned to cooking and graduate work. In alternate chapters, Fechtor discusses marriage, school, and healing, and a plunge into a food blog, "Sweet Almandine," to focus her burgeoning hunger and taste. The writing is solid and the recipes, such as sweet potato curry latkes and challah, are basic with a Jewish slant.

Customer Reviews

Truly Inspiring

Reading this book brought so much joy to my heart. Her triumph through surgery after surgery and how beautifully she writes about food. I was hungry and itching to get into the kitchen when reading. This is a book I will read again and again.


The best thing about this book are the recipes. It was also a unique, creative idea to have recipes imbedded in the narrative; kind of like a gift of nurture and healing that the author gave us. However, as a book about the experience of someone with a life threatening condition who slowly recovered, I think it fell short. There was a lightness to the narrative that I don't think conveyed the gravitas of such an experience. On a positive note, one thing that came across load and clear was the importance of close community in recovery. She has a close cadre of friends, family and a loving supportive husband who helped her through this. I just think that the internal process one goes through in something like this wasn't explored enough and the tone was too light to accurately convey to the reader what this brush with death and recovery is really like for the person going through it.

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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jun 23, 2015
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings