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Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close
Literary fiction

Marrying the Ketchups

by Jennifer Close

Quick take

Like the burger at your favorite diner, this novel is warm, gooey, full of flavor, and will leave you very satisfied.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Foodie



Here are the three things the Sullivan family knows to be true: the Chicago Cubs will always be the underdogs; historical progress is inevitable; and their grandfather, Bud, founder of JP Sullivan’s, will always make the best burgers in Oak Park. But when, over the course of three strange months, the Cubs win the World Series, Trump is elected president, and Bud drops dead, suddenly everyone in the family finds themselves doubting all they hold dear.

Take Gretchen for example, lead singer for a ‘90s cover band who has been flirting with fame for a decade but is beginning to wonder if she’s too old to be chasing a childish dream. Or Jane, Gretchen’s older sister, who is starting to suspect that her fitness-obsessed husband who hides the screen of his phone isn’t always “working late.” And then there’s Teddy, their steadfast, unfailingly good cousin, nursing heartbreak and confusion because the guy who dumped him keeps showing up for lunch at JP Sullivan’s where Teddy is the manager. How can any of them be expected to make the right decisions when the world feels sideways—and the bartender at JP Sullivan’s makes such strong cocktails?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Marrying the Ketchups.

Why I love it

This book had me at the title and only got better from there. Jennifer Close’s insightful, razor-sharp writing made me laugh out loud while recognizing so many indelible truths about what it means to be a family. I loved all of these characters, and sorely wish I could be at the table for a family meal at JP Sullivan’s.

When we first meet them, several members of the Sullivan family find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, be it a failed career, a crumbling marriage, or confusing heartbreak. Throw in three impossible events—the sudden death of their grandfather, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, and the outcome of the 2016 presidential election—and they’re left questioning everything they thought they knew. They all retreat to the old-school Irish restaurant their grandfather opened in Chicago decades ago, where his presence still looms large. JP Sullivan’s has always been the center of their family universe, but it’s difficult for these cousins to figure out their next steps while also nursing grudges and generational conflicts in such close quarters.

Marrying the Ketchups is crisp and funny, and will have you craving the comfort of home and family and good food. I loved this novel, and it has already become a go-to recommendation for me!

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Member ratings (2,243)

  • Kelsey S.

    Toledo, OH

    LOVED! This is a must read for anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry but it’s so much more than that. An intricate look at family: who that is, what that means and why it’s important.

  • Tina M.

    Newport News, VA

    As a Midwesterner this book was like a warm hug welcoming me home. It was such an interesting examination of family, grief, and change. It made you want to fight for what was right and crank 9’s jams.

  • Jenn M.

    Slingerlands, NY

    I found the characters and their stories to be relatable and not overdone. The author captured the troubled feelings of so many of us after the 2016 election. I'd love to read more abou the Sullivans.

  • Kristy H.

    Earlysville, VA

    A sad yet hopeful tale, centered around generations of family and their restaurant. An ode to Chicago and the Cubs and a sharp look at politics, families, and relationships. Nuanced and well written.


    Brighton, MA

    This was quite nostalgic for me, as I moved to Chicago in 2016 and remember the whiplash of the Cub's win and then the election. She captured that moment well and told a lovely story about family.