Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

From the publisher:  One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.
Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.  
When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.
In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.
About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

From Heather:  I realize that this isn't a middle grade book. =]  But it was a great book nonetheless!  

Friendship Bread was our book club selection for this month and I really, really enjoyed reading it.  The book is mainly about Julia, Hannah and Madeline, but there are tons of other characters, sometimes TOO many.  I had a hard time keeping their stories straight!  =]  But delightful characters and a wonderful story.  It almost (almost!) makes me want to make friendship bread.  But not quite (although if I wanted to, there are recipes in the back of the book that I could try!) 

I love the development in the characters throughout the story.  Julia's story was the saddest, I think.  I can't even imagine (although her grief and depression were convincingly portrayed!)  Hannah's story was sad, but not as tragic as Julia's.  And I loved Madeline!  What a wonderful character!  The blurb from the publisher makes it sound like her only problem is getting the tea shop going, but she has her own tragic secrets.

I loved the end of the book.  What a great ending that I didn't see coming!  I love when that happens!  

I give the book 4 stars.  It was a great book, but there were characters that were introduced for only a chapter at a time and then they never reappeared (which I guess was good because I had a hard time keeping up with the characters that DID show up all the time!)  I usually ended up skipping those chapters!

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