This review was originally posted at Dollycas’s Thoughts on April 17, 2011.
Julia is living as a mere shell of herself just going through the motions doing the absolute minimum with her life as she tries to deal with the grief of losing her son. She blames her sister for his death so they have become estranged. Her husband loves her with all his heart but while dealing with his own grief their marriage seems to be falling apart right before their eyes.
Then one day as Julia arrives home with her daughter they find a plate on their porch with a sample of a wonderful bread along with a bag of Amish Friendship Starter Batter with detailed instructions. Julia probably would have thrown it away but her daughter was so excited they decided to give the bread a try.
This ziploc bag of starter starts a whole phenomenon is the small town of Avalon, Illinois. It helps Julia start to heal, and she makes friends with two other ladies who are new to Avalon, each with their own problems and stories. As these friendships grow so does the effect of the friendship bread. One small bag of batter brings us a story of love, loss, and friendship. It also brings a community together in a way that is unimaginable.
I remember this starter and recipe being passed around here several years ago but it didn’t have the same effect here as it does in this book. If people saw you carrying a bag of batter they stopped and started walking the opposite direction.
I have to say that after reading this book I was wishing our experience could have been more like the one in Avalon. This book was as much of a treat as the bread it is based on. It is not a book to be rushed through but a story to savored. There are a lot of times where you stop to think maybe we are missing something in our rushed, hurry up, technical lives of today. True friendships today can become rare because we are all being pulled in different directions, with our jobs, our kids events, school or the many other things that snatch us away from taking time for ourselves. I was wishing for a tea shop like the one in the book, where these women gathered and had time to build forever relationships with each other. The truly took lemons and turned them into lemonade or batter and turned it into such tasty treats.
Darien Gee’s words were just a pleasure to read. She had me laughing one minute and tears in my eyes the next. This is an engaging story that should not be missed by anyone who loves Woman’s Fiction. Can a loaf of bread fix all the wrongs in the world, repair broken families, bring old friends back together and add more friends to enrich our lives? No, but it definitely started those things in motion in this wonderful story.
There are several recipes included in the book. There are Facebook pages and websites dedicated to Amish Friendship Bread. One of them says “This is more than a recipe it is a way of thinking.” That is shown completely is this story. Thank you Darien for writing a beautiful story with a wealth of insight and about the true warmth of friendship.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Ballantine Books, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”