Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House
Julia Evarts’s life is basically falling apart. She has her husband Mark and her daughter Gracie, but she can’t enjoy them, not since her son died, just months before her daughter’s birth. Since that time her grief has crippled her, she can’t work, she can barely care for her daughter, and her husband is like a stranger to her. And then, one day, someone leaves a bag of friendship bread starter on her doorstep. With every ounce of insistence a five-year old can muster, Gracie cajoles Julia into making the bread and, to everyone’s surprise, Julia has fun with it. Before too long she is venturing to the new tea shop in town, and befriending Madeline and Hannah, both new transplants to Avalon.
As the friendship bread begins to make its way around the town of Avalon, it brings people together as well as pulling people apart. Women are coming together all over town in order to find new ways to use their starter. Of course, there are also people running away from their friends and neighbors because they can’t handle even one more bag of starter.
Early on in Friendship Bread I wasn’t really sure about it. For one thing, there are a great many characters. In addition to Julia, Mark, Madeline, and Hannah, Julia’s sister Livvie and her friend, a reporter named Edie are also main characters. Besides all of these people who have significant story, there are alternating chapters with other members of the community once the bread begins to circulate. In addition, it is a little more uplifting than I typically like. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was obviously uplifting from the beginning, more so than I typically read.
Except then, Friendship Bread completely sucked me in. 100%. The past tragedies of the citizens of Avalon tugged at my heart-strings, and then when things got really uplifting, it was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Darien Gee created something pretty fantastic here to move me so much with something that initially seemed somewhat lighter than I typically prefer.
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