Title: Friendship Bread
Author: Darien Gee
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
When Julia Everts finds a bag of friendship bread starter on her front porch, she doesn’t know what to think. After all, she doesn’t really have any friends left since she shut out the world after the death of her son. But she and her daughter, Grace, decide to make the bread and share it around their small town, not knowing they will change their own lives and those of the people around them in the process.
Friendship Bread is a very interesting book. It’s uplifting and inspirational, bringing together families and community through these bags of starter. People learn to live again, love again, and give one another second chances, and the catalyst for all of these earth-shaking events are these little, innocent bags of friendship bread starter. This might make this book seem cheesy and silly, but the amazing thing about Darien Gee’s novel is that it isn’t. It’s heartwarming and sweet, but it never falls into the trap of being sappy or sentimental. Given the subject matter, it really should, but Gee’s artistry ensures that it’s a well-told solid novel in its own right.
The strength of Friendship Bread lies in its characters, namely Julia and Hannah. Julia is cloaked in her grief; she wears it as a warm blanket, ensuring she can keep the world at arm’s length. When the friendship bread intrudes on her solitude, she doesn’t realize that baking and sharing it is the first step in letting go of her protective shell and allowing herself to experience life once again. Similarly, Hannah, an award-winning cellist who is married to a celebrated musician must also find her own two legs to stand upon. For so long, she’s been able to hide behind her status as an internationally renowned musician, and then as the wife of one, but now that she’s in the small town of Avalon, she must figure out who she is and what she wants out of life.
Gee writes emotions very well in Friendship Bread. Readers will sympathize with each of the characters, even those that are only mentioned for a page or two. Indeed, the novel contains countless people within it, so readers will easily be able to find a “favorite” character – for me, it was Edie, the journalist who doubted the bonds present within a small town, only to discover how completely wrong she was. This is the book to read when you are losing faith in your fellow man and woman and need to be reminded that there is some good out there in ordinary people.
Friendship Bread is a sweet novel; the bakers among us will love how this bread brings an entire community together around it. If you love reading about food and also enjoy a heartwarming story, this is definitely the perfect novel to pick up. Admittedly, the premise is a bit silly, but you’ll soon find that it doesn’t matter because the book is so easy to become involved in. It’s a quick read, but one well worth putting your time into.