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A Reader of Fictions: All These Things That I've Done - The Killers

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All These Things That I've Done - The Killers

The Baker's Daughter

Sarah McCoy
Pages: 279
ARC Acquired from: Crown Publishing Group via NetGalley
Brief Summary:
Reba, a reporter for Sun City in El Paso, moved there from her home in Virginia, trying to get away from the memories that haunt her, memories of her father's behavior, who returned from the Vietnam War a broken man. She planned for El Paso to be merely a blip on her radar, before she continued west for a job with a better paper. She now feels stuck, though, engaged to Riki, a Border Patrol agent. Although she cares for him, she fears showing him her real self and wonders if their love is enough. For an article on Christmas customs in different cultures, she goes to the German bakery to interview Elsie Schmidt, who grew up in Germany during the Nazi years. Through her relationship with Elsie and Jane, Elsie's daughter, Reba learns about strength and facing tough memories.

The Baker's Daughter was not what I expected it to be, not really at all. For one thing, I thought the story would focus on Elsie, which, if you consider the main character the person who most of the pages are focused on, she would be. Really, though, the tale seems to be more about Elsie's affect on others, as viewed through the lens of Reba.

This device works incredibly powerfully. Elsie had a great impact on many lives, but, by using Reba as the frame story, McCoy is able to bring in additional themes and commentaries in a natural manner. The story could have been told from the perspective of Tobias just as easily, but I think something would ultimately have been lost. By incorporating Reba into the tale, McCoy is able to draw connections between Nazi Germany, the Vietnam War and the border wars between the U.S. and Mexico.

McCoy tells the story primarily using an omniscient narrator, who follows along with the perspective of one character at a time, but there are also epistolary sections. With this combination of formats, the reader follows along with a handful of characters. What makes this so impressive is that every character was likable, though flawed--especially Reba. They all had unique voices and interesting tales to tell.

The Baker's Daughter left me feeling full of hope and inspiration. McCoy's is a message of hope and the triumph of the human spirit over tragedy, so long as you face up to your fears. I suggest reading prepared; if you don't have any fresh bread or cake from a bakery, you are going to be super hungry!

Rating: 4.5/5

"Another head aches, another heart breaks
I am so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection"

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