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How to Bake a Perfect Life

June 9, 2011

How to Bake a Perfect Life

by Barbara O’Neal

I must preface this review by saying that I didn’t have high expectations of this book. My very kind sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday and I somehow couldn’t get past the first chapter for months! But once I started focusing properly (e.g. when Maya wasn’t around) I could not put  How to Bake a Perfect Life down.  This is one of those fabulous chick-lit books that seems to have it all: it’s heart-wrenching, relatable, and very entertaining.

This is the story of Ramona, a 40-year-old baker who loves her daughter Sophia – a child she had when she was an unwed teenager – more than life itself. She loves her so much that when Sophia rushes off to Germany to take care of her injured soldier husband, Ramona takes in Sophia’s 13-year-old step-daughter Katie without a second thought. Ramona does this despite the fact that she is struggling to keep her bakery afloat, to make ends meet, to mend fences with her dysfunctional extended family, and to repair her own love life.

I think the main reason I loved this book so much was because halfway through I realized I want to be more like Ramona. I mean I’ll most definitely pass on her self-described “muffin top” and her predilection for very old men, but aside from those minor character flaws, I do admire so many things about Ramona:

  1. Her ability to take a risk – I am so risk-averse it isn’t funny.
  2. Her ability to put her child first – I put myself first Far. Too. Often.
  3. Her selflessness – I am selfless about nothing.
  4. The fact that she can roll with the punches – My Type-A self can’t roll with anything except my schedule, which is set in stone.
  5. The fact that she knows that ultimately happiness can’t really be defined by a dollar sign – I haven’t quite come to this realization yet but I’m getting closer every year. Maybe by the time I’m 75 I’ll fully believe this.

There is one tiny thing I didn’t admire about Ramona however, and that’s the way she let people talk to her. From her daughter Sophia to Katie, from her mom to her long-lost love interest, Ramona didn’t seem to have the backbone to put people in their place. This kind of saddened me, especially since I have the same problem.

Bottom Line: I am so impressed with the author’s ability to weave so many stories together effortlessly and the relatibility factor here is priceless. Barbara O’Neal is truly an amazing writer and I will be hunting down the rest of her books.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2011 1:05 am

    Oh – I love this. Thank you, I’m just writing about a book right now but will wait a bit on it…I’m not finished it and not sure how I feel yet 😉

    This book had me at its title! Ain’t that the truth. And all those points you mention as your “faults” are REAL – and that is why I adore you…

    And they are also me….and I don’t have a kid. Your self-less just for having one! 🙂

    Also – I totally get the “when you can finally give it proper attention” – I am definitely iike that and especially recently. It can be the best book in the world but if I’m more stressed, lost or upset than usual (yes it happens), then it’s impossible to stick to it.

  2. June 9, 2011 7:34 am

    Glad you liked the book! I found the first chapter a little tough as well but overall the book was really, really good. I also expected it to be cliche but as you said, it beat the expectations!

  3. June 9, 2011 11:20 am

    Excellent review – I’m putting this one on my list!

  4. June 9, 2011 11:24 am

    My baking obsession forced me to buy this book..once I saw the title I couldn’t help myself 🙂 It was a good book, far from my favorite..but it was good

  5. June 10, 2011 12:51 pm

    I’ll have to check this one out – I’ve done that before, had to put a book down because I just could not get into it, picked it up months later and had a whole new look. Thanks for the review – it sounds so awesome.

  6. June 13, 2011 10:35 am

    This book as officially been added to my “must read” list. Im so glad you reviewed it.

  7. Leslie permalink
    June 16, 2011 2:26 pm

    How did I not know about this blog? I’ve rectified the situation by subscribing. BTW, your writing style just keeps getting better and better. Your synopsis is 3 sentences long. Three.Sentences.Long. For a book that’s got a long dramatis personae and multi-generational theme. Now that’s impressive and powerful brevity.

    You rock, Ameena!

    • June 16, 2011 8:28 pm

      Thank you Leslie for being my biggest fan and subscriber. 🙂 And if you (or you mom) would like to borrow this book just let me know!

  8. magicofspice permalink
    June 20, 2011 5:37 pm

    I have read a few books that I had a hard start with but then ultimately loved them 🙂 Sounds like you ended up enjoying this one 🙂

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