Book Review: Friendship Bread

13 May

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.


Darien Gee is an author, wife, and mother of three. She’s a Libra Monkey, a chocoholic, and of late, an Amish Friendship Bread addict. A former California resident, Darien served on the board of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and ZYZZYVA, an award-winning literary journal. She’s an alum of Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her next Avalon novel, Memory Keeping, will be published in 2012 by Ballantine Books.

Writing as Mia King

Darien has written three novels under the name Mia King: Good Things, Sweet Life and Table Manners. Those books were also published in Germany and Norway. To learn more about her Mia King titles, visit her website at

For facts, tips, history and recipes using Amish Friendship Bread, click HERE.

My Impressions:

Darien Gee has written a warm, inviting story that is about loss, hope and second chances.  Friendship Bread takes place in small town Avalon in northern Illinois, a small community that cares about its residents.  But even in a close knit community, there are those who suffer alone.  The story centers on 5 women: Julia is still grieving for her son Josh who died 5 years before, Livvy is Julia’s sister struggling with the guilt and exclusion due to her part in Josh’s death, Hannah has come to Avalon to start a new phase in her marriage, Edie is the out of place journalist looking for that big story and Madeline, owner of a tea salon, is looking for her own sense of home in her new town. All the characters are struggling — with loss, grief, identity — yet there is such a sense of peace and hope in the novel that you just know everything is going to work out well.

Seemingly, Amish Friendship Bread starter is the goopy glue that holds the story together, yet it is really the relationships that these women build that bring meaning to their lives.   The characters are well-written and real. The reader comes to care about their problems and wants to join in their walk towards growth, joy and forgiveness. I especially liked how Gee handled the male characters.  There is no man-bashing.  In fact, I think she presents them in a generous and sympathetic light.  Sprinkled throughout the novel are vignettes of residents of Avalon, sometimes humorous, always touching, their stories bring a richness to the novel.  

Friendship Bread is like its namesake — sweet, warm, filled with rich ingredients and flavor.  A perfect book for a discussion group, the novel will delight and leave you hungry for more.

Highly Recommended.

(Please note:  For those who generally read Christian fiction, this is not in that genre.  There is some mild profanity.)

Friendship Bread Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 2

Book reviewed at Booking Mama

Book reviewed at You Have How Many Kids?

Tuesday, May 3

Book reviewed at Life in Review

Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book!

Wednesday, May 4

Book reviewed at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, May 5

Book reviewed at Carly Bird’s Home

Friday, May 6

Book reviewed at 2 Kids and Tired

Monday, May 9

Book reviewed at Geek Girl Reviews

Tuesday, May 10

Interviewed and giveaway at Acting Balanced

Wednesday, May 11

Book reviewed at Acting Balanced

Thursday, May 12

Book reviewed at Hott Books

Friday, May 13

Book reviewed at By the Book

Monday, May 16

Book reviewed at Colloquium

Tuesday, May 17

Book reviewed, interviewed, and giveaway at I’m A Reader, Not A Writer

Book reviewed and giveaway at A Cozy Reader’s Corner

Wednesday, May 18

Book reviewed at A Room Without Books Is Empty

Thursday, May 19

Book reviewed and giveaway at Always With a Book

Friday, May 20

Guest blogging at Always With a Book

Book reviewed at Red Lady’s Reading Room

Monday, May 23

Book reviewed at 4 the Love of Books

Tuesday, May 24

Book reviewed at Just Another Book Addict

Wednesday, May 25

Book reviewed at Reading Frenzy

Thursday, May 26

Book reviewed at Lynn’s Corner

Friday, May 27

Book reviewed at The Book Connection

Guest blogging at Books, Products and More!

(I received Friendship Bread as part of the Pump Up Your Book Blog Tour.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: Friendship Bread”

  1. Cheryl Malandrinos May 13, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Thank you for the lovely review of Darien’s book. I’m glad you enjoyed it. This one has been so popular with bloggers. I’m glad I decided to get myself a copy too.

    I remember my family sharing Amish Friendship Bread, and now I’m thinking it might be time for me to start it up.

    Thanks again for the great review.


  2. pamelareadz May 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Thanks for this post…I’m going to add this book to my “to-read” list…also, I love your new look…:)

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