Edith Magnusson never thought she’d be figuring out how to translate the flavors of her award-winning pies into beer. But when her granddaughter, Diana, turns a severance package into ownership of a fledgling craft brewery, she’s surprised to find that brewing is in the family bloodline. A chance to mend decades-old resentment resurfaces, and Edith, her sister Helen, and Diana have to decide how to best navigate the tricky waters of reconciliation.
[An] engaging debut ... Stradal skillfully develops his story in a nonlinear fashion ... It’s a shrewd strategy. Providing Helen’s perspective humanizes her without whitewashing her behavior ... the novel is so rich and satisfying. Characterizations are pleasingly three-dimensional ... The zingers don’t disguise Stradal’s fundamentally optimistic view of human nature, a belief that people can change and virtue can be rewarded, at least sometimes. This generous spirit makes The Lager Queen of Minnesota a pleasure to read and the perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day.
A love story to Minnesota, craft beer, and the power of second chances, Stradal’s second novel goes down easy. Perspective shifts among Helen, Edith, and Diana, letting each woman speak for herself and allowing their narratives to build off one another, despite the non-linear timeline. Imbued with Midwestern references and the importance of a 'can-do' attitude, this warm, witty novel will appeal to fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Meg Wolitzer.
... encompasses an astonishing swath of time while feeling like an intimate account of the journey of a single family ... Serendipity may not bubble up in real life as often as it does in Stradal’s world, but who cares? Other readers can nitpick all they want about what’s realistic and what’s not. I willingly suspended disbelief, shotgunning the whole optimistic, meticulously researched story in one satisfying gulp.