Stones for Bread is an enchanting, emotional, story about Liesl McNamara.
Written in first person present tense, we get an intimate look at Liesl's introverted personality and the events that led to who she is presently. All this while we watch her change and bloom and overcome her traumatic past. Liesl isn't like the many characters I meet on a weekly basis, she stands out. She loves her routine and likes the amount of control she has over her business. She likes certainty. In this aspect at least, I can relate to her.
This is going to sound strange, but this book reminds me of the movie Chocolat. Not because of the characters or even the setting, but because of the heart and soul of making bread passed down from mother to daughter on Liesl's mother's side. In Chocolat, Vianne and her daughter, Anouk, open a chocolate shop. The recipe Vianne uses has been passed down in her family for ages. Chocolat and Stones for Bread are very different in all other ways, but the familiar legacy is similar. I really liked that.
Throughout the novel, Parrish offers us Liesl's recipes. I loved this! In fact I plan on trying Cecilia's chocolate bread soon. I don't normally say this, but I felt like I learned quite a bit about the art of bread making. Parrish gives us this information without boring us, something that could be a big concern for some people. Will I, personally, put it to use? I'm not sure.
I recommend this book to readers sixteen and older for self-harming and a suicide (I'd say more on this, but... spoilers!). Parrish weaves Christianity into this story in a fabulous, unexpected way; especially because Liesl was never a big church goer at the beginning of the story.
I received this book from Booksneeze in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!
If thous tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.' Robert Browning.
Liesl McNamara understands this. She lives and breathes this reality everyday at her bakehouse Wild Rise.
'Modern home-cooks think nothing of tearing open a bag of silken flour and a package of active dry yeast, and pouring the dry ingredients into a machine with a couple measures of water and a tour hour wait for a fresh loaf. Bread's dark history is unknown to them. And the sacrifice.'
Stones for Bread, page six.
Wild Rise is a world unto itself, and it is her world.
There are a select few individuals who understand the spirit of Wild Rise, and together they navigate life in all its tears, tragedy, innocence and irony. We get to meet these people in Stones for Bread.
Stones for Bread is a book that I am almost afraid to review.
I'm afraid that my stumbling attempts to describe the magic of this story, most of which takes place in the Wild Rise kitchen, will make it sound small and cliched, when it is none of those things.
This book isn't your typical *anything,* and I can't confine it to one genre.
It is a God-story, a Love-story, a Family Legacy story.
This book is a raw-and-lyrical-at-the-same-time story, an exploration of living after you've been devastated and discovering the meaning of life.
This book is Liesl's story, and her faith is woven in like gold threads in a tapestry.
I loved the way the theme of the Eucharist, Christ as the Bread of Life, the physical bread symbolizing Him, was displayed here. There were times when I stopped, went back to the passage, and read it again to let the words resonate.
Liesl McNamara was a bread maker by trade but it was more than that. Making bread was a family tradition that was passed from generation to generation. She learned to make bread at the hands of her mother and grandmother, Oma, from the time she was a little girl. When she found her mother dead at the age of only thirteen, Liesl closed herself off from the world eventually turning to bread making as an escape from the memories that haunted her. Now, years later, she hides from the past in her bake house, Wild Rise. Because her apprentice sends in an application for the TV show Bake-Off, Liesl sons finds herself in the middle of production with some hard decisions to make. But a little girl and her father have worked their way into her life and heart and Liesl has to decide if she is willing to let go of the past and look toward the future.
Seamus Tate is the new flour delivery man for Wild Rise bake house. After his wife walked out he found himself as a single father trying to raise a six year-old alone. When his daughter, Cecelia, becomes attached to the bakery owner he soon finds himself becoming attached to her as well. Liesl has worked her way into his heart and when his mother becomes ill and needs constant care Seamus has no choice but to return to Tennessee. Is his love enough for Liesl? Can she give up the one thing she has always used as a balm to her wounds? Or will she give up the only true love she has ever known?
I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book. I like for a book to wrap itself around me until I feel like I am a part of the story and I just didn't feel that with this book. I love the traditions ingrained in Liesl's family. The bread making that was passed from generation to generation is something to be admired because it brought a closeness between Liesl, her mother and grandmother. Bread making was their solace and that is a beautiful thing. There are a lot of descriptions on bread and bread making all throughout the story. So much so that I feel like bread makers will be more likely to get the most out of the story. I loved her mix matched "family" though. They are described on page 211 like this, "...odd, growing Wild Rise family of immigrants, high school dropouts, nerdy engineers, flirty artists, fundamentalist farm girls, and everyone else." This is such an accurate description and you can't help but love the characters. Xavier and Tee especially. It also covered an issue that is seldom discussed and that is, self-inflicted pain. Kids often inflict pain upon themselves as a way of dealing with the problems going on in their lives. In Liesl's case she would beat her legs with a hairbrush until she was black and blue. I feel it's a problem that should be addressed more and I give a thumbs up to Christa Parrish for bringing it to light.
I am a romance junkie at heart, though, and I feel like the one thing I love took a backseat to everything else. The romance between Liesl and Seamus was slow in developing and I really like that but I wanted to read more about it. I wish it had been woven into the story more often. Seamus was such a sweet, teddy bear of a man and I would like to have seen more of him. Also, all throughout the book the story would just stop and there would be a section connecting Jesus, the Bread of Life, to the bread we consume daily and then the story would resume where it left off. While I completely agree with this theological concept, it somehow seemed misplaced for me. I'm still struggling with how to classify this book as well. Is it romance, self-help or women's fiction maybe? I'll let you be the judge. I also feel like there was a loose end. I like my books all tied up in neat little packages but I felt like there was a loose thread left hanging. If you are a romance junkie like I am, while you might like the sense of family this book evokes, you may not love the story as a whole quite as much. However, if you are a bread enthusiast I do recommend it as you will most likely love it because it has a lot of references to and instructions on bread and bread making and it also includes several recipes.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
A solitary artisan. A legacy of bread-baking. And one secret that could collapse her entire identity.
Liesl McNamara's life can be described in one word: bread. From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.
But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits Liesl's recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flourâ€”a single father with strange culinary habitsâ€”seems determined to win Liesl's affection.
When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family's past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.
Filled with both spiritual and literal nourishment, Stones for Bread provides a feast for the senses from award-winning author Christa Parrish.
"A quietly beautiful tale about learning how to accept the past and how to let go of the parts that tie you down." â€”RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars, TOP PICK!
The random bread facts just threw me off. I love bits of information, and incorporated correctly, it can add to the story immensely. But in this case, it just made for an odd feel to the novel, and added to the overall depressing mood of the story. The writing style was different; direct and to the point; no eloquent turn of phrases or complicated explanations.
That being said, the part history, part memoirs, made for a very interesting tale. It was intriguing because it was unlike anything I've ever read before, and it was unique and uncommon telling of something that almost feels as it can be true. Liesl felt rather distant, but that only added to the charm of the book. A wonderful addition to anyone's library.
This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.
I just love stories about broken and lonely people gathering together to form community. "Stones for Bread" is this. It's the story of Liesl, owner of the Wild Rise bake house. Still overcoming the shock of her mother's suicide and of finding the body at the age of just twelve, Liesl holds people at arm's length. Yet she loves to bake bread and takes her role as keeper of the bread seriously, preserving a family legacy.
Throughout the book, God brings new people into Liesl's life and reveals secrets about the people she already knows. Liesl must learn to adapt to changing needs, to open her heart and her life to people she cares about, and to listen forâ€”and trustâ€”God's Voice.
Because it's a book about a growing community of broken people, suicide isn't the only circumstance that people must work through that's touched on in the book. Others include depression, self-harm, alcoholism, adoption, cancer, dyslexia, abandonment, divorce, death, and corporate greed. The story doesn't dwell on these, howeverâ€”just acknowledges they exist. The focus of the story is on Liesl and her loved ones learning to get along and care for one another. They're learning how to live.
"Stones for Bread" is a leisurely read for a reflective day. I enjoyed my time with it. I probably won't try any of the bread recipes scattered throughout the book, but I found the history and mechanics of bread baking to be interesting. Thomas Nelson Publishers sent a complimentary copy of this book for this honest review. I recommend it to you.