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Monday, November 11, 2013

A Tangle of Knots, written by Lisa Graff. Philomel, Penguin. 2013. $18.00 ages 9 and up

"There had never been anything like a jar of Darlington peanut butter. As soon as a dollop hit your tongue, your entire body melted into happiness. As a young girl, V hadn't been able to get enough of the stuff. Her parents hadn't, either. The whole town was nuts for it. The whole state. The factory could hardly churn out jars quickly enough, people bought so many."

There is so much to love about this book...but, it is the people who make it shine. We meet them in alternating chapters and learn just enough about each of them to know that are one of the pieces in this magical puzzle. It is a book filled with 'talented' people. Everyone has a Talent already, or is looking for one. Some are born with them, some must discover them for themselves.

Cady has a baking talent; she also seems to know just exactly which cake is perfect for the person she is making it for...she's usually right! Cady is an orphan who lives in Miss Mallory's orphanage and is never picked for permanent adoption. She has been chosen and returned a number of time. Miss Mallory is certain that the ideal parents will materialize at some point and Cady will finally find happiness. Her matchmaking prowess will make it so.

Along with Cady we meet a generous group of characters who are linked to her in some way. The story is set in Poughkeepsie, and the people there are warm, humorous, community-minded. Each is connected to the other, and it takes the entirety of the novel to unravel the mysteries of those connections. As I read, I was constantly trying to figure out how the stories would come together. The author does a terrific job of juggling their story lines, and keeps us guessing until the final pages are read. Knowing how to deal with the circumstances that fate affords is a central theme, and it is very satisfying to watch each of the connected characters deal with their own realities.
Cady's cake recipes add appeal for those who love to bake, and they sound quite scrumptious. She bakes them for particular characters, and has names for each one. I will be tempted to try a couple of them, for sure. I just hope I can pull it off as baking is not my forte. Ah, well!

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