You are on page 1of 6

STACEY BALLIS

h a n g e
to C
a Life
a n ove l

BOOK CLUB KIT


Dearest Readers,

I dont know about you, but Im of the generation that came to technology after I had already inished
college. Okay, grad school. Sigh. I managed to get through my entire education with only landlines,
and for college, a very slow IBM word processor. Pagers were not even a thing yet, except for doctors.
The libraries of my youth still had card catalogs, and we hand-wrote letters to deliver via snail mail. I
traveled abroad and sent Aerograms back home, thin blue paper scrawled with news for friends and
family. As a result, it required a certain amount of effort to remain in touch with friends from high
school and college post-graduation. If someone moved and a phone number changed, it was easy to
lose them forever.

And then, here in my late 40s, the world of communication has exploded. Internet and smart phones
and social media became the norm, and suddenly my past became my present. Friends I had not seen
since grammar school or high school graduation, old college buddies who had all but disappeared,
they all started popping up on Facebook. Old photos were scanned and posted and tagged, memories
shared, and before you know it, the friends of your youth have become the friends of your middle age.

In a lot of cases? This is amazing. I have reconnected with so many people after absences of 20-30
years who have become the people you would want them to become, who have married or partnered
amazing people, who are raising terriic kids. It can be a real blessing and a pleasure to have them back
in your life.

Mostly. But sometimes? Those pals of yore have become adults whom you would actively avoid if you
met them for the irst time today. For whatever reason, the years have not been kind, and now you have
a conundrum. Is there value in continuing the connection, considering the history, or do you just wish
they had never reappeared in your sphere, and hope to ignore them till maybe they go away?

This was the genesis of How to Change a Life. What happens if someone who has a small, contained, and
contented life suddenly has to deal with the reappearance of her best friends from high school, whom
she hasnt seen in over a decade and a half? And will the roles they all took with each other back then
be the roles they are willing to take on today, or will they have to igure out how to relate to the adults
they have become? How do you navigate getting to know the people who once knew you better than you
knew yourself?

Im deeply proud of this book, I think it has a lot to say about friendship and family and love and
tolerance. I think it has things to teach us about staying open, and letting our lives expand when
necessary. I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it for you.

Biglove,
Stacey
P i z z a S t r u d e l
Serves 12

Eloise invented this recipe as a teenager and it served as a regular late night
snack for the trio, so it only makes sense that she would make it to bring to
Lynnes house once they reconnect! It is a very easy recipe for a party, and
can be multiplied up to serve more people.

I NGRE DI E N TS 1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

1 pound sweet Italian


2. In a nonstick skillet set over medium high heat, cook the
sausage, removed
from casing sausage for about eight minutes, or until lightly browned,
fully cooked with no pinkness and well crumbled. Transfer the
1/2 pound grated
mozzarella cheese sausage to paper towel to drain and remove extra fat. Mix the
mozzarella and fontina in a bowl and set aside.
1/2 pound grated fontina
or provolone cheese
3. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out the dough to
1 pound pizza dough an 11 14-inch rectangle. Cover the dough with the cheese
(see Note)
mixture, leaving 1 inch of dough around the edges. Sprinkle
1/2 pound pepperoni, the crumbled sausage evenly over the cheese, and then do
sliced
the same with the pepperoni. Starting on the long edge, roll
2 tablespoons the dough tightly around the filling to form a log, pinching the
extra-virgin olive oil edges closed.
2 tablespoons
grated Parmesan 4. Transfer the roll, seam-side down, to the prepared baking
sheet. Brush the outside of the roll with the olive oil and
sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan.

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the outside is golden brown


and crisp and the inside is fully cooked. Transfer the strudel to
a wire rack and let it cool for 10 minutes. Cut the strudel into
1-inch slices. Serve hot or at room temperature. If you like, you
can serve with pre-made pesto or marinara sauce for dipping.

Note: I recommend either buying premade dough if your grocer carries it or


stopping into your favorite pizza place and asking to buy some from them. If you
prefer to make homemade, use your favorite recipe.
C h o c o l a t e C h e w i e s
E lois e s T r i pl e
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

One of the recipes Eloise is working on for her cookbook, as well as a great
addition to her clients cookie jar, these cookies pack a serious chocolate
punch, with dark cocoa powder in the batter and two kinds of chips. You can
experiment with other add-ins like peanut butter or butterscotch chips, dried
cherries, or your favorite nuts!

I NGRE DI E N TS 1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2 1/2 sticks unsalted


2. In your stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream
butter
the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the
2 cups granulated sugar
eggs one at a time until well combined, then mix in the vanilla.
2 large eggs In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla and salt together, then mix into the butter and egg mixture.
extract Once well combined, stir in the chips by hand.

2 cups all-purpose flour


3. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls or with a cookie scoop onto
3/4 cup dark cocoa ungreased cookie sheets, leaving two inches between each
powder
cookie. Bake for 8-9 minutes. You dont want to overbake
1 teaspoon baking soda these, since the chew is what you are after. (not that they

1 teaspoon kosher salt arent delicious when crispy . . . ) They will sort of poof up a bit
while baking, but will flatten back out while they cool and this
1 cup milk chocolate
chips will create the chewy texture. Cool for about 5 minutes, then
transfer to a rack to cool completely before storing, but feel
1 cup white chocolate
chips
free to taste a couple while still warm, just to be sure they are
okay for your guest.

4. They will keep for a week in an airtight container.


Que s t i o n s f o r
Discussion
1 The goals that Eloise and her friends
come up with are meant to be
5 How would you characterize Eloises
relationship with her clients? Do
challenging and to push each woman you think that her devotion to other
outside of her comfort zone. What families has been beneficial or
goals would you set for yourself? detrimental to her own happiness
What goals would you create for your and achieving all of her lifes goals?
friends? Use specific examples from the book
to illustrate your points.

2 Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa have been


friends since high school. How would
6 Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa each seem
you characterize their relationships? to play a specific role in their friend
Do you think friendships can last group. Discuss those roles. Do they
beyond high school? Do you think change over the course of the novel?
that they should? Why or why not? What role do you play in your own
friendships?

3 Lynne accuses Eloise of breaking


girl code. What do you think of
7 Why do you think the author chose
Eloises choices? How do you feel to include the character of Marcy?
about Lynnes reaction? Use specific What does she add to the story?
examples from the book to illustrate What do you make of her
your points. interactions with and feelings
toward the other women?

4 Discuss how the book handles race.


Why do you think the author chose to
feature an interracial couple? How did
it affect your reading of the novel?
STACEY BALLIS is the author of ten foodie novels:
Inappropriate Men, Sleeping Over, Room for Improvement,
The Spinster Sisters, Good Enough to Eat, Off the Menu,
Photo by Joe Mazza / Brave Lux

Out to Lunch, Recipe for Disaster, Wedding Girl, and How


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

Other books by STACEY BALLIS

staceyballis.com staceyballis1 @staceyballis @stacey.ballis