REVIEW: Umami by Laia Jufresa

Every so often, a book is so popular that it seems to appear in every magazine I pick up. Vogue, Marie Claire, Nylon and a whole host of newspapers have sung the praises of Umami. Set in Mexico City, Umami is a highly original and eccentric novel which takes a heart felt look at loss and how we experience grief at different ages.

Moving between the different characters who live in the houses that surround one courtyard, this is a fast-paced and engrossing read. All of the characters are unique and yet familiar. It is not often that I don’t have favourites within a novel with multiple narrative streams, but here I was interested in all of the characters, what they were feeling and what they were doing. The novel is rich in unique details and the characters all have their quirks, with dark touches throughout.

Ana is a twelve year old living in one of the houses with her parents and brother. Every summer she is sent away to stay with her grandmother in Michigan, but this year she persuades her parents to le her stay and build a garden. It is not just because she finds summers with her grandmother boring, Ana is dealing with the loss of her little sister and the way that her family has changed since her sisters death.

Across the street the owner of the houses, Alfonso, is dealing with his own grief but the loss of his wife is overshadowed by the far more dramatic death of a little girl. He is a quiet old man struggling to cope with the life left behind.

Jufresa creates a rich picture of lives being recreated. The ongoing struggle to cope with loss and make life worth living. All of the characters are imperfect and at the same time likeable. I was curious about them all. There are some very strange topics and events in the book, things that made me pause, that made me uncomfortable, yet they added an extra layer to the book.

I read this book very quickly, it was literally unputdownable. I wanted the book to last longer and I found the ending sad, leaving me wanting more and yet it was the right ending for the novel.

I can’t wait to read more from Laia Jufresa.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I hope it’s okay to request a book review this way!

    I hope my novel appeals to you enough to write a review.

    Here’s the blurb:

    Even though she lives hundreds of miles away, when Langston, who dreams of being a chef, meets Cecile, a Juilliard-trained pianist, he is sure that his history of being a sidekick, instead of a love interest, is finally over. Their connection is real and full of potential for a deeper bond, but the obstacles between them turn out to be greater than distance. Can these busy, complicated people be ready for each other at the same time? Does it even matter? Before they can answer these questions, each must do battle with the ultimate demon—fear.

    Told in a witty combination of standard prose, letters, emails, and diary entries, LETTING GO, in the tradition of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s AMERICANAH, is a long-distance love story that also examines race, religion, and the difficult choices we make following our passions. From the Great White North to the streets of New York City to the beaches of Bermuda, LETTING GO is a journey of longing, betrayal, self-discovery and hope you will never forget.

    If you think you might be interested, I can send a pdf, mobi, or epub file.

    Links to Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble are below. I have also included samples from the companion CD, which consists of my performances of pieces mentioned in the book, along with readings of passages that refer to them. My novel was published on Createspace, July 4, 2016.

    Here’s my bio:

    Maria Thompson Corley is a Canadian pianist (MM, DMA, The Juilliard School) of Jamaican and Bermudian descent, with experience as a college professor, private piano instructor, composer, arranger and voice actor. She has contributed to Broad Street Review since 2008, and also blogs for Huffington Post. Her first novel, Choices, was published by Kensington. A poem about her son, “Malcolm,” which she presented at the 2016 National Autism Conference, is featured periodically on the Scriggler All Stars Twitter page. “Drop Your Mask” was awarded second place in New York Literary Magazine’s love poetry category and appeared in that publication’s AWAKE anthology in December, 2016.

    Here are my websites (the first is more pertinent to writing):


    Chopin Fourth Ballade in F Minor, Op. 54
    Maria Thompson Corley, piano From the CD “Music from the Novel Letting Go” available on iTunes; Dec. 15, 2016 on Amazon and Createspace. “Letting Go: A Novel…
    An excerpt from the Novel “Letting Go”
    Read by the author. Letting Go by Maria Thompson Corley is available on Createspace, Smashwords, and Amazon. Music from Letting Go, featuring readings and piano …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Maria,

      Thank-you for commenting, please send your review request through the contact form on the page labelled ‘Hannah’ at the top of the screen. I look forward to hearing from you.



      Liked by 1 person

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