“Mom wrote?” She never told me. “Do you mind I’m going to be writing a book about the fact that I was hungry?” I asked her once, after reading to her a section I had written. “Just tell a good story,” my mother said.
Hunger comes in many forms. A person can crave a perfect steak in the same way that she can crave a perfect family life. In her forthcoming memoir, Crave, Christine Scherick O’Brien tells the story of her own cravings. It’s a story of growing up in a family with a successful, but explosive father, a beautiful, but damaged, mother and three brothers in New York City’s famed Dakota apartment building. Christine’s father was Ed Scherick, the brilliant ABC television executive raised on Long Island who created ABC’s Wide World of Sports, That Girl and Bewitched as well as classic films of the seventies like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Sleuth, The Stepford Wives and The Heartbreak Kid. Her mother, Carol, was raised on a farm in Missouri. With chestnut hair and the all-American good looks that won her the title of Miss Missouri and a finalist place in The Miss America Contest, she wowed Scherick on a visit to New York and, ultimately, they were married. But, Carol had a craving that was almost impossible to fill. Seriously injured in a farming accident when she was a girl, she craved health even though doctors told her that she was perfectly fine. Setting out on a journey through the quacks of the East Coast, she began seeing a doctor who prescribed “The Program” as a way to health for her and her family. At first she ate nothing but raw liver and drank shakes made with fresh yeast. Then it was blended salads, the forerunner of the smoothie. And that was all she let her daughter, five sons and husband eat. This well-meant tyranny of the dinner table led Christine to her own cravings for family, for food and for the words to tell the story of her hunger. Crave is that story — the chronicle of a writer’s painful and ultimately satisfying awakening. And, just as her mother commanded, it’s a good one.