Sunday, October 13, 2013

How to Bake a Perfect Life

How to Bake a Perfect Life
Barbara O'Neal

How to Bake a Perfect Life

Genre: Women's Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads):  In a novel as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationships between mothers and daughters—and the healing magic of homemade bread.

Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.

When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again—this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering.

Ramona relies upon a special set of tools—patience, persistence, and the reliability of a good recipe—when rebellious Katie arrives. And as she relives her own history of difficult choices, Ramona shares her love of baking with the troubled girl. Slowly, Katie begins to find self-acceptance and a place to call home. And when a man from her past returns to offer a second chance at love, Ramona discovers that even the best recipe tastes better when you add time, care, and a few secret ingredients of your own.

Review: I really enjoyed reading this story, and can easily see myself lending it to friends or reading it again.  The author explores the relationship between mothers and daughters, and I was especially drawn into the story of Ramona and her step-granddaughter.  Although the characters dealt with difficult issues like teenage pregnancy, family estrangements, serious burn injuries and a traumatic childhood with a meth-addicted mother, the overall message of the book was one of hope and love.  It read so quickly and easily, yet still made the reader think about the issues the characters had to face.  Plus, the bread recipes looked delicious!

Rating: 4.5 stars

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