Author: Leah DeCesare
Genre: Fiction/Chick Lit
The story takes place in 1988, Amy York’s freshman year at Syracuse University in New York. She’s a hopeless romantic, a future journalist and an only child to her widower father. Amy’s mother died when she was just an infant but Amy’s father ensured that Amy grew up knowing she was loved and cared for.
Amy and her father have a celebratory going away dinner at one of their favorite restaurants before she heads off to university. As a final attempt to protect his daughter, Thomas York presents his Amy with advice on finding love and self-worth. He offers her an analogy to her help navigate college boys; each boy can be placed into a utensil category:
Forks: The cocky, arrogant jocks. The players. The assholes. The guys that will play with your heart and hurt you. STAY CLEAR of all forks.
Knives: All of the decent guys fit into this category, but it’s up to you to figure out which one is your steak knife (the perfect guy for you). The knives are sharp and confident, but not cocky. They have skills and know when you use them. They are protective, respectful and decent men.
Spoons: Dorks, dweebs, geeks, losers, stoners, and idiots.
Amy introduces the Utensil Classification System (UCS) to her friends and they are amazed how quickly they are able to categorize boys they know. Some boys are trickier to identify, they seem to fit into a category but show traits of another. The girls giggle as they identify these boys who don’t fit the UCS mold as sporks, slotted spoons, pitchforks, butcher knives, and so on.
Amy and her freshman roommate, Veronica, become instant best friends. Amy is optimistic and Veronica is a realist. Amy is carefree and Veronica and a tidy rule-follower. They balance each other and are ready to take on college (and their first real jobs in New York City) and find their perfect steak knives together.
Review (no spoilers!):
What I Liked:
Forks, Knives and Spoons is an adorable summer read. DeCesare got the college experience down-pat. At Syracuse University, Greek life has a strong presence and everyone hopes to be accepted into their first choice fraternity/sorority. I loved reading about the sorority lifestyle, especially in 1988. The sticky fraternity floors, the bonding and sisterhood, the golf tournaments, the dances and the endless partying were all realistic.
The book is divided into three parts:
Part 1: 1988-1989 Freshman Year
Part 2: 1992-1993 Senior Year and Moving On
Part 3: 1993-1994 Forks in the Road
I liked that the story didn’t tediously drag the reader through all four years of university. DeCesare describes the ups and downs of freshman year then brings the reader straight to senior year. The way the book is organized allows the reader to experience numerous milestones and events through the characters: meeting the roommate, making friends, being away from home, earning decent grades, fine-tuning career skills, graduation, moving to a big city, moving into their first apartment, finding jobs and, of course, finding true love.
As a side-note, I love that this book takes place in the late 80’s-early 90’s. There’s a communal land-line phone in their dormitory where everyone receives their personal phone calls; if you aren’t in your room, someone tacks a note on the bulletin board! There are no high-tech computers; I cracked up when Amy inserted a floppy disc into a computer at one point, a floppy disc! If you were born after 1995, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. The hairstyles, the lifestyle and technology had me feeling nostalgic.
What I Didn’t Like:
Honestly, there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book! I’ll admit- it was a bit predicable, but I relished in the predictability! I was looking for a light summer read and this book was exactly that.
I highly recommend this book to all young women. The book promotes self-worth, self-love and achieving your greatest potential as you navigate the tricky years after high school. Bonus: it also helps identify some red flags in men along the way.
My Next Read:
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett — it’s been on my TBR list since it was published! I love her novels.