The Rye Bread Marriage, a review by Di

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THE RYE BREAD MARRIAGE
Michaele Weissman

Algonquin Books
August 15, 2023
278 pages

Goodreads | Bookshop.org

I’m not sure what I expected when I started reading this book. But, I am sure that what I read was not anywhere on my horizon.

I think my expectations were that it would be about a mixed marriage. He is a Latvian refugee, she is an American-born Jew. Two very different cultures. I thought it would be about the cultures and customs of each, coming together (with a few clashes) with the best of both being the result.

Rye bread is not just the bread that Latvians prefer to eat. It is their comfort food, the food from their homeland. I am the youngest child of Latvian parents who were Latvian immigrants. Rye bread was the preferred bread for many years in our house but as my parents assimilated, they were open to trying anything. It was never a manic obsession as it is portrayed in the book. It just seems over the top for me.

The author takes the time to describe the oppression and hardships of the Latvian people and the effect on future generations. Maybe a bit too much information, it was very dry.

The writing style is totally different from anything that I am used to. The are no chapters. Just numbered sections of what often appears to be random thoughts. It is often very disjointed. Some of the sections are only 3 lines. Some go on for pages. It lacked continuity.

The best part to me is when the author talks about starting the research and the bakery for rye bread. It is interesting and informative.

But, sadly, the rest of the book for me is just “ok”.

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