‘How to Change a Life’ Is Decadent and Delicious [REVIEW]

Navy Pier Fireworks

A chef sees fireworks when she meets a hunky ex-athlete in Stacey Ballis’ How to Change a Life. (Photo by Michael Mayer, Flickr)

What happens when you cross novelist Nancy Thayer with culinary maven Lucinda Scala Quinn? Meet Stacey Ballis, an author whose books are as delicious and decadent as they are hilarious and heartwarming. In her latest novel, How to Change a Life, three longtime friends reunite to dare one another to take leaps of faith that lead to unexpected consequences. 



Eloise is a personal chef who seems to have it all: clients she adores (and who love her right back and show it with a phenomenal salary and benefits); family who always looks out for her; and Simca, a Welsh corgi she received as a gift from one of her longtime clients. It’s really not a bad life, and she’s happy. Or at least she thinks she is until she reunites with old friends and suddenly realizes how solitary her life really is.

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa have been besties since they met in Mrs. O’Connor’s Freshman Honor’s Literature class on the first day of high school. But now they’re pushing forty and suddenly they realize that they haven’t quite accomplished everything that they wanted to in life. So they dare one another to make lists of things to do before they hit the big four-oh. Lynne, the control freak, has to get a pooch. Teresa needs to take her marriage off simmer and crank up the heat. And Eloise needs to start dating again.

When Shawn enters the picture, Eloise is thrown for a loop. He’s a gorgeous piece of beefcake that she can see herself happily nibbling on for years to come. But just as their new romance starts to blossom, a chance encounter shows her friends’ true colors and threatens to shatter all her newfound dreams. Will the girls’ friendship last until they hit forty, or will this bump in the road decimate their relationship forever?

Although Ballis has been writing for a while now, this is the first time I’ve been introduced to her work, and I have to say I love it! From page one, I was immediately sucked into the story by her vibrant writing style, quick humor and engaging characters. The dialogue is fresh and the banter is hilarious. The cast is authentic. And if you’re a foodie like me, you’re going to find yourself taking notes on all the mouth-watering meals she writes about here too.

Readers who are as passionate about the Food Network as they are voracious bibliophiles will undoubtedly add Ballis to their list of must-read authors. This is that rare novel that makes you want to drop everything and settle in for a delightful romp through other people’s lives. In fact, it is so good, it should come with a napkin, because you’re not going to want to miss a morsel. But just a word for the wise: treat How to Change a Life like you do a trip to the grocery store, read it on a full stomach or else you will get the munchies and may consume everything in sight before the last page is turned.


Stacey Ballis

Stacey Ballis
(Photo by Joe Mazza Photography)

Stacey Ballis is the author of 10 foodie novels: Inappropriate MenSleeping OverRoom for ImprovementThe Spinster SistersGood Enough to EatOff the MenuOut to LunchRecipe for DisasterWedding Girl, and How to Change a Life

She is also a contributing author to three nonfiction anthologies: Girls Who Like Boys Who Like BoysEverything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly

Stacey is a member of the Chicago chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier, an international organization for women in the food, wine, and hospitality industries which helps raise money for scholarships and mentorship for other women looking to enter careers in these fields.

Before her writing career took off, she worked as the director of education and community programs at Goodman Theatre; as the director of education at Court Theatre; and as a high school English teacher.

Stacey attended Brandeis University where she double majored in English Literature and American Studies and minored in Creative Writing. She obtained her Masters Degree at DePaul University.

For more information, visit Stacey’s home on the Web at StaceyBallis.com, check out her blog at blog.polymathchronicles.net, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

By Stacey Ballis
400 pgs. Berkley. $16.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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