Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: The Sweetness of Forgetting

Author: Kristin Harmel
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

At thirty-six, Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen. Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.

Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake. . .
After reading a few reviews on various websites about this book I wanted to give it a try for myself. I feel like I have read so many books just this year that take place in bakeries and in which the characters talk about these amazing dishes that they prepare and I start to drool! I love books about food. Who doesn’t? It is something that everyone can talk about because everyone has to eat!! I also saw Paris on the back cover. Ok, so I am already hooked. A bakery and Paris in one sitting? Count me in!
Can I just start by saying that it is because of books like this one that I am a book blogger? It is books like this one by Kristin Harmel, who I now love, that bring out my ultimate passion for submerging myself in a story. I opened this book and I might as well have found a buried treasure. I found so many intricate details and stories within the story that I did not expect from my first glance. The words are so fluid and it almost makes me feel like writing something extraordinary myself. Wow! I definitely cannot wait for more from this author!
The story starts us with Hope McKenna-Smith who is a divorced thirty-six year old who owns a quaint little bakery called North Star Bakery and also has a very bratty and somewhat hormonal daughter. Her life has “put her out in the street” so to say, and she has been having a rough time trying to make ends meet as far as paying her bills and maintain a somewhat stable relationship with her daughter, Annie. Little does Hope know that things are about to change for her. She is about to go on possibly the most thrilling adventure of her life. You have already gone to the store to buy a copy of this book right? I knew you would.
My heart constantly went out to Hope. She had recently lost her mother to breast cancer, suffered a rather hideous divorce, her relationship with her daughter is suffering, her grandmother is suffering from dementia, and she does not make enough money to make her loan payments on time. From the start I gathered that Hope was a survivor! And by this I mean that she had survived all this mess that I previously listed, as if that isn’t enough, and still pushes through even on her worst day. I know that this character can sometimes be written with a little too much cliché, if you get my drift. But Hope’s character was only the work of a mastermind. I could sense Hope’s fear and her desire to throw the towel in on her life. She had reached a breaking point and I could almost feel her crashing down. But remember Hope is a survivor and she isn’t done surviving yet!
A few chapters into the story we meet Rose who is Hope’s grandmother. Rose is suffering from a severe case of dementia. Rose has served as a mother figure to Hope for most of her life because Hope remembers her mother as being cold and reserved most of the time. Rose presents a challenge for Hope and basically asks her to uproot her life in order to go to Paris and find some relatives who suffered during the Holocaust. Rose, on a good day, remembers her past and wants some answers as to what ever happened to her family. Hope is faced with a huge struggle. She is about to lose her bakery and her grandmother has just asked her to take off to Paris to find people that may not even have any existing records and no way to know what may of happened to them.
Hope’s journey is the best part. Parts of the story are told from the perspective of Rose and they allow you to see more clearly into Rose’s life before coming to America. Let me tell you to have your box of Kleenex ready. I was so touched by the testimonies of Rose and by the discoveries that Hope makes. This book takes two generations of women and allows one to help the other to find some closure and peace in her current state of life. I would recommend it to anyone! Such a compelling story that led me to deeper analyze my own life.
***A HUGE thank you to Gallery Books for providing me with my own copy of this book, in which I will cherish forever***


Please check out the giveaway below!! This giveaway is US only! The publishers at Gallery Books have decided to allow me to offer you guys a chance to win your very own copy of The Sweetness of Forgetting. They are going to giveaway 3 different copies to 3 different winners!! How exciting is that? Enter below! It starts tomorrow and runs through Saturday!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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