Title: The Baker's Daughter
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Broadway Books 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars
Reading Challenges: 52 Books -- W11; Women Authors; Library; Well Rounded Reader -- Historical Fiction
In 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.
Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
This was March's book club selection. Apparently we have a thing for books (fiction or nonfiction) set in WWII. As far as I know, our pattern is completely unintentional... Weird!
As for the books, I liked it overall. When I go a bit deeper, I found that i really enjoyed the story set in the 1940s and the parts of the 2007-2008 story that involved Elsie. So I guess I really liked Elsie. Reba just didn't speak to me as a character. I kept thinking that her and Riki were wrong for each other and yet they still ended up together (pretty obvious from the set-up). I glad Reba decided to eventually just be herself, but all of her waffling and fakeness just got to me after awhile. On the flip side, Elsie was a great character. She had layers. She had great qualities, but also a few faults. I loved getting insider her mind as she dealt with the realities of Germany during WWII. I loved her relationship with her parents and especially her relationship with Tobias. I loved watching her grow throughout the years to eventually become the woman that Reba meets. A solid historical fiction story focusing on two (three if you count Jane) women growing.