Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Stones For Bread

Stones for BreadAuthor: Christa Parrish
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

What do you do when the gift you thought was bread turns out to be stones?

Liesl McNamara’s Wild Rise is not only a popular bake house and cafĂ© in Vermont, it’s an extension of herself. Liesl is an artisan bread maker, like her mother and grandmother before her. Even though she lost her mother to suicide when she was eleven, she keeps this maternal bond alive as she bakes.

Liesl prides herself on living an uncomplicated, unattached life. But that changes when Seamus walks through the door of Wild Rise, lugging the large bags of whole wheat flour from the local food co-op. He and his daughter Cecelia have recently moved to the country seeking simplicity. Despite her best effort, Liesl becomes attracted to this teddy bear of a man who laughs easily and eats strange sandwich concoctions—on her bread, much to her dismay.

Her simple life is further complicated when a popular cooking show features her bakery. The publicity increases her business and brings several offers from larger businesses, all of which she turns down. But it also brings a completely unexpected phone call, one from a woman claiming to be her half-sister.

Liesl’s sense of identity dissolves as everything about her relationship with her mother—and the bread that held them together—comes into question. Has she been given stones rather than bread? And how can she ever take these crumbs and make them whole again?

Good bread, like wine, has depth.

My mother puts aside her passion for baking to work as an elementary school secretary because we need the money. She buys cheap blenders and toasters from garage sales for my father to deconstruct in the basement. She always has dough crusted in her engagement ring.

I do, sowing the pieces like seeds beneath the Rose of Sharon where the hummingbirds come for nectar. Before I finish, a chipmunk scampers over from its hiding place in the drain spout, pads its cheeks full of bread with disconcertingly human-like hands, and runs away toward the greenhouse, carrying my grief with it.

We wore dull clothes in dull colors, moths not butterflies.

Christa Parrish brings readers a book that is absolutely lyrical, magical, and completely unlike anything I have ever read. In this book we have multiple stories going on at once, and they are all magically woven together. Liesl’s present is being influenced by things that have happened to her in her past and this is how the story is told. The book also includes some of the most mouthwatering recipes between stories of Liesl’s past and present. Liesl is an artisan bread maker just like her mother and grandmother once were. Liesl’s mother died when she was a young girl, but Liesl keeps their bond alive by continuing with her passion to bake some of the tastiest breads and selling them in her bake house, Wild Rise. Liesl prides herself on having a somewhat peaceful life in which she bakes and appeases her customers. This book tells the story of what happens when her peaceful life is thrown a few chaotic interruptions!

Readers take on a deeper understanding of Liesl’s life as they read. I first pictured her as a woman who has everything together, but I quickly learned that Liesl has some deep, dark unresolved issues. Her obsession with a peaceful, controlled life starts with her bread because it is something that she has complete and utter control over. I enjoyed Parrish’s writing style the best because it allowed me to follow along with Liesl’s past as well as her present. Parrish’s writing really allows the reader to follow the main character deeply, and develops characters better than others that I have read in the past. She has a unique sense of style, and I can’t wait to read more from her soon!

The recipes were another favorite thing of mine while reading. I read all of them, and some of them twice! While I could never bake like this, I find it so amazing that other people do, on a regular basis. Bread making was Liesl’s passion, and I for one am a strong advocate for having many passions in life. I thought the recipes were a nice touch, and only developed Liesl as a character more!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review***

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