Friendship Bread by Darien Gee – Book Review

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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15 comments to Friendship Bread by Darien Gee – Book Review

  • This sounds good. I’ll admit, I’m skeptical about it, so it makes me feel better than you were skeptical when the novel began! I’ll have to take a closer look.

  • Great review! It’s good to know you enjoyed it despite initial hesitations. After reading the jacket copy I was afraid it would be unrealistically uplifting. A lot of times it feels like authors use the ‘happy ending’ to make up for subpar writing or lack of good characters/plot.

  • I am sorry to hear that it is a little slow at the start. The premise looks okay, but I am excited (I know weird) that it brought tears to your eyes. I could always use a good cry :)

  • I have this sitting on my nightstand, I’m going to have to dive in very soon. Nothing like a good cry from a good book.

  • i just finished this book last night and I absolutely loved it. i normally don’t like books that seem too everything goes along splendidly but i think it was handled perfectly in this book. i was really sad to see everything end and i loved the full circleness of it all. and now i really want to try some amish friendship bread but i am afraid to make the starter and get swept into the frenzy…

  • I do know what you mean about not liking books that are too uplifting. I’m the same way, but have adored some books that are like that.

  • Meg

    I got a little scared when I saw you mention the abundance of characters, but it sounds like I’m going to enjoy this one! I’ve enjoyed Gee’s other books, writing as Mia King, and have high hopes for Friendship Bread. Plus, the cover is so pretty!

  • Just the title made me very skeptical. Sounds way too cutesie and happy. (Boy don’t we sound like people who want to roll in misery!) I just loathe the Polyanna thing. But hmmm. You got sucked in. That is encouraging…

  • I have seen this around, but been a bit hesitant because it just seems too nice if you know what I mean! I have however added it to my TBR list to get to one day, maybe.

  • This sounds like a very good book. I love friendship bread even if I don’t make it.

  • I know, this one just looks too fluffy to me. I received it unsolicited and haven’t made up my mind about reading it, but I’m glad to see that you liked it.

  • darn, I am seeing too many positive reviews of this one around. I may have to buy it! 😉

  • Okay, I admit it: based on the cover alone I would have thought this book waaaaay too fluffy for me. But I’m liking your description here….off to the library catalog online now to see if I can reserve it….(I’m a sucker for townspeople’s tragic stories).

  • Mollie

    I’m preparing for a book club discussion on this book and found this review and the responses in the process. I agree the title can go either way in getting one interested or turned off but to say this was an uplifting book at the beginning is beyond me. I found it depressing in many ways but I also found myself so curious about where the author was going with each person’s story that I managed to stick with them. I’m glad I did because it was a good read, it made me wonder what I would do in the various circumstances, and I know it will be an excellent book for discussion.