Bread and Butter is a delicious combination of hope and despair. Filled with mouthwatering descriptions of restaurant food and heart-warming scenes between loved ones, this is a wonderful story about the joys and challenges of starting a business, sibling rivalry, and being a grown-up.
Harry is back in his hometown of Linden, Pennsylvania, to follow in his older brothers’ footsteps of opening a restaurant. Leo and Britt, having been in the restaurant business for years, think that Harry is taking on more than he can handle. So when Harry’s new restaurant is a success (and when Harry and Britt start falling for the same girl), the three brothers begin to feel the competition and strain in their relationship.
Wildgen did wonders with the character-building; the third-person narrative she uses to shed light on each of the three brothers’ thoughts is surprisingly intimate, and I became increasingly attached to these three throughout the story. I really enjoyed Leo’s quiet presence, Britt’s sophisticated charm, and Harry’s boldness, and I like how these characters are inherently good even though they start cracking apart later on.
The time spent with each of the three brothers is also divided nicely; each brother’s concerns and storyline are individualized and cultivated, and in the end integrated into the overall progression of the story. The humanness that Wildgen shows through all her characters is both optimistic and realistic in the sense that they fall down and get back up again, a refreshing difference from stories that only tell of the falling down part. It’s a pretty even battle between hope and despair, which is more fun than seeing one emotion overpower the other.
The plot is slow-going, and it took me a few chapters to really get into the story. (And awkward side note: I actually thought Britt was a girl when I first started reading and got really confused.) But the restaurant business is full of tension and excitement, so Bread and Butter picks up the pace soon enough. There’s a lot of action, dialogue, and introspection, and everything is just so well-balanced. It’s fascinating to read about what goes on behind a restaurant, from building a menu to keeping tabs on customers, and the restaurant setting naturally builds up a lot of tension and animosity, contributing to the pace of the story.
And oh my god the food is just incredible. Roasted pears, oyster fritters, lamb’s neck, chocolate cakes… can I just jump into the book and take all the food please? Reading about food is almost good as eating food, and I felt so content from eating all the textual food in Bread and Butter. Delicious!
Food, family, friends – Bread and Butter‘s got it all! This well-balanced story incorporates delicate family ties, fragile romances, and simmering emotions, with lots and lots of tasty food. If you like slice of life stories, food, and sibling rivalry, give Bread and Butter a try!