Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Friendship Bread, by Darien Gee

I know this phrase is overused, but Friendship Bread was the epitome of "heartwarming." I wanted to curl up by a fire with a cup of coffee and a piece of friendship bread the whole time I was reading.

Gee writes about a fictitious town, Avalon, Illinois. This is a small town with the usual small town problems. Gossip, struggling businesses, never forgetting a tragedy, family problems, and holding grudges are all themes in this story.

There are lots of characters, but the main ones are Julia who has lost her son because of a bee sting allergy. This happened while her son was with his aunt Livvy, Julia's sister, and therefore these sisters are estranged. Madeline, the widow who runs the Avalon Tea House and has no family is also a prominent figure in the book. And, Hannah, a concert cellist who can't perform any more because of an injury and whose husband has left her and moved to Chicago is our third primary figure.

These unlikely characters come together because of a mysterious bag of friendship bread starter that appears on Julia's porch one morning, along with a loaf of friendship bread. If you aren't familiar with the concept of friendship bread: someone gives you the starter, you take care of it and add to it for 10 days, then you bake with part of it, and divide the rest up and give bags of starter (with the recipe) to your friends (which may soon be your enemies.) It's basically like a chain letter with bread.

Gee then intricately introduces us to many different characters in Avalon and weaves them together as friendship bread is passed around the town. Suffice it to say, that the bread baking brings everyone together, and together they are stronger. Fences are mended, and the spirits of the town are lifted.

I know, it sounds kind of hokey, and this book is not my usual fare, but I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. It didn't feel too sappy to me, which is the problem I have with some of these books. I did think the volume of the bread baking at the end was a bit over the top, but that's forgivable.

There are recipes included. My family did the "friendship bread thing" many years ago. I've just got to try it again--how can I not? So, beware if you read this book -- baking may be a side effect!

I'm probably not going to recommend this one to my teens, but I will pass it around my family and friends. I think they will love it as much as I did (and then hopefully they will want some of my friendship bread starter so I can get rid of it!)

Published by Ballantine, April 5, 2011
Copy obtained from Border's going out of business sale :(
400 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

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1 comment:

  1. I could do with a heartwarming book like this right now! It sounds like just the thing for cold winter evenings... :)


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