Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks is about a thirty-one-year-old woman, Wynter, whose husband decides that he no longer wants the life they've made together. Basically, this just means that he's unhappy with her. So, after lots of struggle and some other craziness, Wynter moves to Seattle (where her best friend lives) and makes a life for herself as an assistant bread baker in a local bakery.
First Impression: I'm a little wary of reading Bread Alone primarily because the main character is a middle-aged woman re-establishing her independence after her husband leaves her. I don't have anything against the situation itself, but there's a tendency toward weepy, boring, and predictable narrative for those characters, at least in novels I've read in the past. Also, I get the impression that Hendricks neglects certain small details which would enhance her characters. She is very attentive to specifics of the bread-making process, for example, but points out that CM, the main character's best friend, has beautiful feet. As a professional dancer (which CM is supposed to be), this is highly unlikely. If she does very much professional ballet dancing, her feet would be pretty messed-up. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal, but I think these details build-up a lot of an author's story with small amounts of space and effort. That being said, Hendricks's writing style is more compelling than a good deal of authors who have told similar stories. I'm not sure why I'm interested in how this book will continue, but I find myself intrigued by what might happen. Maybe it's the bread--who doesn't have hankerings for fresh bread, am I right? But whatever the reason may be, I hope the book becomes its own unique world with enough good detail to keep me going.
Conclusion: I didn't like the main character. Wynter was whiny and selfish and a bit of a brat. However, she did seem to be an accurate result of her past life. Her father spoiled her when she was a child, and friends, boyfriends, and her husband have been "taking care of her" ever since. I kept expecting her to learn from her mistakes, or at least to stop yelling at people and throwing big fits. The newly single woman only really learned anything at the end. She had an epiphany--not an increase in maturity, just an increase in understanding herself and what will make her happy. But even though I didn't really like Wynter, I still enjoyed the book. It's somewhat rare for me to say this, but I didn't need to like any of the main characters to enjoy the story. The way that Hendricks brought in pieces of the story (as well as flashbacks to important moments in Wynter's life) kept me intrigued, and I read this book fairly quickly. There are a few bread recipes in the book, as well, for those of you who look for books with recipes, patterns, and the like. To sum it up, this book didn't change my life, but I did enjoy it. If you happen to be browsing at the library or a book store and see this one on the shelf, pick it up. It's a fast and interesting read.