Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Friendship Bread and Letters From Home

I was excited to receive another advanced reading copy of a book yesterday.  The title of this book is Friendship Bread by Darien Gee.  The summary/review is as follows:

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

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.

I can relate to this woman's loss over having to take care of the starter and bake the bread and then give some more starter to her friends.  I remember back several years ago some coworkers of mine were into the friendship bread starter thing.  Everyone was making it, growing it, giving it to everyone.  At the time I was living at home and unmarried.  I had absolutely no interest in taking care of a bread "starter".  At the time I could barely keep my plants watered, so I didn't want to take on another thing I couldn't do.  Some of the women even seemed offended that I wouldn't want to do this.  Another coworker of mine didn't do it either.  She said she had done it years ago and that it was a never ending thing and that you have to take care of it like a pet.  She said if you go on vacation you have to get someone to come in and feed it.  It sounded kind of humorous in a way.  You know, now that I think back on it, I did try it one time, but I missed one day of watering or mashing or whatever you are supposed to do to it and it just went bad.  That's when I decided that I just wasn't interested.  This sort of thing reminds me of a chain letter, where you have to keep it going or something bad will happen.  I'm sure this is wonderful for women who really want to do it and that it does forge lasting friendships, but it's just not for me.  I am, however, looking forward to reading this book because this type of story is the type of reading I love.

There is another book that I learned about today that I've ordered a copy of and it really looks good too.

Inspired by the true story of her own grandparents’ courtship during World War II, Kristina McMorris captures the heartache and sacrifice of love and war in LETTERS FROM HOME, an award-winning debut novel that is timeless, tender and unforgettably moving.

In the midst of World War II, a Midwestern infantryman falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he’s been writing to is not the one replying.

Chicago, 1944. Liz Stephens has little interest in attending a USO club dance with her friends Betty and Julia. She doesn’t need a flirtation with a lonely serviceman when she’s set to marry her childhood sweetheart. Yet something happens the moment Liz glimpses Morgan McClain. They share only a brief conversation—cut short by the soldier’s evident interest in Betty—but Liz can’t forget him. Thus, when Betty asks her to ghostwrite a letter to Morgan, stationed overseas, Liz reluctantly agrees.

Thousands of miles away, Morgan struggles to adjust to the brutality of war. His letters from “Betty” are a comfort, their soul-baring correspondence a revelation to them both. While Liz is torn by her feelings for a man who doesn’t know her true identity, Betty and Julia each become immersed in their own romantic entanglements. And as the war draws to a close, all three will face heart-wrenching choices, painful losses, and the bittersweet joy of new beginnings.

Beautifully rendered and deeply felt, LETTERS FROM HOME is a story of hope and connection, of sacrifices made in love and war—and the chance encounters that change us forever.

I'm really looking forward to reading both of them.

Other than that, not much is going on right now.  I've been really busy at work.  We are 5 weeks into the semester at the community college library where I work.  Time is going by so fast, that this semester will be over in another 10 weeks and summer will be here.  It seems like we just had Christmas and now the weather is getting warmer and nicer here.  I'm sure we're going to see some more frost before it's over, but right now it's very nice and we've been enjoying it.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Those sound like wonderful reads, Sharon! I'll have to check them out on my next trip to Borders.