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Gingerbread

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3.06  ·  Rating details ·  9,212 ratings  ·  1,889 reviews
The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and inventive novel.

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories--equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as f
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Paperback, 372 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Random House Large Print Publishing
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Todd "Grief sends Harriet staggering from place to ruined place in the form of a flightless crow." (page 32) This is my guess for the imagery of the cover.…more"Grief sends Harriet staggering from place to ruined place in the form of a flightless crow." (page 32) This is my guess for the imagery of the cover. The oranges are used as symbols of love and affection between Harriet and Perdita at the end of their text messages (i.e. xoxoxo).(less)
La La According to the publisher 18+ years of age

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Average rating 3.06  · 
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 ·  9,212 ratings  ·  1,889 reviews


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Brooke
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
2.5 stars.

I have a feeling that I’m going to be in the minority when it comes to this book, but I just didn’t get it. I was confused and unsure about what was happening 80% of the time, due shifting timelines, elements of magical realism, the multitude of characters and so on. While I spent the other 20% engaged in Oyeyemi’s wonderful writing, I finished this book without any clear idea of what it was about...

That said, I think this is a case of ‘It’s not you, it’s me” as I’ve come to realize t
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Paromjit
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is imaginative, original, if oblique, absurdist and meandering storytelling from Helen Oyeyemi, a family drama, of friendship, class, and an inheritance of a long held traditional family recipe for Gingerbread, which is instrumental in the shaping of their destiny and fortunes. In a novel entitled Gingerbread, there is almost an inevitability that fairytales are involved, such as the well known Hansel and Gretel tale. Additionally, there are talking dolls, a feel of the gothic, the utilisin ...more
Amalia Gavea
‘’The colour of my heart is black.’’

A mother tries to persuade everyone to try her gingerbread. A daughter tries to survive the harsh school environment and a reality that doesn’t seem to be ‘’real’’ at all. Fairy tales and magic find their way to the human soul.

Harriet is a gifted teacher raising her daughter, Perdita, alone, haunted by the traditions and the memories of her homeland. She comes from Druhastrana, a fictional country, in the borders of the Czech Republic, a small nation of ma
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s.penkevich
The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.
W.H. Auden

An element of fairy tales that I particularly enjoy is the way you allow the story to happen to you like a wave washing over you. Literature that utilizes the genre effectively taps into a primordial reading experience that bears the wonderment of a world where magic and danger may lurk unexpectedly all around and the fantastical is still possible. You don’t question the oddities, you gleefully plunge deeper down the rabbit hole.
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Doug
Mar 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
'We're as indivisible as gingerbread dough. Shhh, don't ask me what that means!' p. 221

Ever since the publication of my 'most liked' review of the execrable and inexplicably award-winning Milkman seven months ago, several people (bless their hearts) have inquired: "Doug, do you think anything will ever surpass Burns' tome in sheer awfulness within your lifetime - and inspire you to even greater heights of takedown-dom?" My reply has always been: "Don't be silly! Milkman is the ne plus ultra, nay
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Samantha
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: least-favorites
Gingerbread was my most anticipated read of 2019, and sadly it was a letdown. Look at that gorgeous cover! (And no, that's not the only reason I was so hyped.) I read Helen Oyeyemi's short story collection What is Not Yours is Not Yours over a year ago and instantly fell in love with her writing. Then this year I read and loved her novels Mr. Fox and White Is for Witching. So I was really amped-up for the release of this one. Gingerbread has everything AND the kitchen sink; it's too much and it' ...more
Ron Charles
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Someone must have given Helen Oyeyemi a handful of magic beans when she was born in Nigeria because she’s been planting them ever since. This fantastical writer, who completed her first, acclaimed novel at the age of 18, sows her modern-day stories in the fertile ground of ancient myths and fables.

But Oyeyemi, now 34, isn’t just goosing old fairy tales with contemporary melodies. She’s drawn to what’s most unsettling about these fables: their disorienting logic, their blithe cruelty, their subtl
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Emer (A Little Haze)
Wow...

Oyeyemi is just supremely skilled at making words the centre-point of her writing. This novel at first glance might have little to no plot, and little to no truly identifiable characters... But what it's got in spades is an authentic sense of the here and now. It mixes fable and folklore with issues of feminism and race in what are snippet-sized allegories that link to create this other worldly novel. It's incredibly surreal and wonderfully subversive in its narrative style. It's the type
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Hannah Greendale
DNF at page 70.

Aimless and uneventful.
Umut Rados
Beautiful writing, engaging characters. Some sentences are just to devour. However, it's too abstract for my taste and the plot structure caused me to get bored at times.
So, I think I'll stick to a 3 star at this point and say that I partly enjoyed this book :)
Julie
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Lewis Carroll's quote: "Curiouser and curiouser" comes to mind as I try to describe this book. It certainly felt like I had gone down the rabbit hold at times. I loved the first half and remained fully fascinated. Was it a stream of consciousness? I thought the writer a genius! The second half was less shiny for me and sometimes caused me to lean out, rather than in, however, overall, it was a marvelous read that touched on many subjects.

Indeed, talking of subjects, I would be hard pressed to me
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Donna
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
This was my first time reading this author and I fear it may be the last if her other books are anything like this one. I knew going in it would be a weird story, and I was okay with that. I was in the mood for something weird or magical, or some sort of modern day fairy tale which would distract me from what’s going on in the real world these days. And for the first part of this book, I got what I had imagined and was satisfied. I was intrigued by the off kilter story, and I felt sympathetic to ...more
Jules Kelly
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
🍊🍊🍊
if Murakami had a take on ‘Great Expectations,’ mixed it with fairytale magic, and sprinkled ‘fucks’ all over it — what a joy.

“That heart, ground to ash and shot through with darts of heat, salt, spice, and sulphorous syrup . . . you are phenomenal. You’ve ruined my life forever. Thank you.”
Jeffrey
Mar 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Looking for a book without a plot?!
One that thinks it’s much more clever than it is?!
Need a read that rambles aimlessly without direction or thought?

Then this book is for you!

I found this torturous and was simply begging for it to end... but I’m a person who generally refuses to give up till I’m done.
Emily B
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was glad when this was over and tbh I wanted to give up at 40% or even sooner but nevertheless persisted.

The magical realism stuff didn’t work for me.
It all felt a bit all over the place, with huge families and widening character circles and time changing frequently.

For me it just didn’t work
Kara Leann
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gingerbread is one of the most unique books I have ever read. Helen Oyeyemi's writing is so beautiful and descriptive that she transports you to another world where anything is possible. I did have to read slowly and closely as I found this to be a challenging read but it was incredibly rewarding in the end.

Thank you to Riverhead Books for providing a free review copy via Edelweiss.
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
DNF at 30%

Magical realism is hit or miss with me. Certain books in the genre are charmingly quirky and others go right over my head. Unfortunately, Gingerbread was a miss for me.

Helen Oyeyemi is undoubtedly a talented writer who can expertly command the page so I was excited to read this upcoming release. I appreciate her originality but this novel was underwhelming for me. The quirky lives of Perdita and Harriet Lee are shared in a fairy tale style influenced by the classic children's story Han
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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
What an odd, delightful, confusing book. I just love Oyeyemi's voice and how she weaves these strange books that are like fairy tales and contemporary stories all at once. There were some parts of this story of three generations of women from a maybe fictional country that had me puzzled about what was happening and what significance there was, but also I loved the writing throughout so I didn't mind. There's something being said here about immigration that I'm not catching too. Oh, and some ple ...more
Ygraine
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"the gingerbread recipe is one of the lean-year recipes, and it stands out because the lean-year recipes are all about minimizing waste and making that which is indigestible just about edible. none of it tastes good save the gingerbread, which is exactly as delicious as it has to be. blighted rye was the family's food of last resort, and the jeopardy in using it was so great that it made great-great-great-grandma really think about how to take the edge off. out came the precious ingredients, the ...more
Gumble's Yard
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Harriet Lee’s gingerbread is not comfort food. There’s no nostalgia baked into it, no harkening back to innocent indulgences and nursery times. It is not humble, nor is it dusty in its crumb.


It begins with an translated epigraph from Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight – “The beginning and the end accord hardly ever”, a paragraph which applies less to the book as a whole (the end of the novel does end up roughly according with the start) than to individual sections and sometimes paragraphs.

Oyeye
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Paul Fulcher
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I ’m not sure how to put this....

Try putting it in terms of gingerbread.


This is a difficult novel to review as I strongly admire what Helen Oyeyemi is doing, and appreciate her influences, without being convinced that the result was a totally satisfactory reading experience.

In the 21st century, I do find it odd how much of our literature is still rooted in the 19th century realist novel, which was just one step on the novel's evolution. See my review of Javier Cercas's brilliant The Blind Sp
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Will
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars, would like to remain solid right there, rounding neither up nor down. Up, down? It could go either way for me. With some hesitation, I’ve rounded up

I have read other books by Helen Oyeyemi and enjoyed them. They have been interesting and always imaginative, laced with and built upon elements of myth and fairy tale. Her writing is solid, often beautiful, and I admire her for pursuing her unique vision. I saw her at a reading for her previous novel and she came across as an intelligent
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Brenda
Sadly, not a big hit for me. I found the set up and premise so enchanting, but by the middle - as Harriet is about mid-way through her reminiscing with Perdita - things sort of muddled and grew dull. The mounting list of characters cropping up and who really didn’t add much to the story and all the way through to the ending, I found myself dragging.

Lyrical and full of fun magical realism, but with a story that really doesn’t do much or even go anywhere, this book was an unfortunate let down.

Wh
...more
Paula W
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been quite a while since I have enjoyed a book this much that didn’t have a strong plot or strong characters. The basic plot outline, I guess, is that there is an odd, sort of magical family living amongst normal folks. Dolls talk, countries may exist only in a “Room or Requirement” kind of way, and the gingerbread made from the family recipe can change people’s lives and attitudes.

None of the characters are particularly likeable, and the plot is all over the place. WHO CARES? I didn’t.
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Krista
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, arc
A gingerbread addict once told Harriet that eating her gingerbread is like eating revenge. “It's like noshing on the actual and anatomical heart of somebody who scarred your beloved and thought they'd got away with it,” the gingerbread addict said. “That heart, ground to ash and shot through with darts of heat, salt, spice, and sulfurous syrup, as if honey was measured out, set ablaze, and trickled through the dough along with the liquefied spoon. You are phenomenal. You've ruined my life foreve
...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
While it was sometimes difficult to get a hold on the story line, this whimsical and intriguing book was still enjoyable. The audiobook is read by the author and her voice is incredibly charming and lends a further fairy tale feel to the story.
Hillary Smith
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helen Oyeyemi has done it again! Gingerbread will innocently hold out a hand and lead you though a deliciously dark tale of family, home, wealth, friendship and class. I am a devoted fan of all of Oyeyemi's work, but this might be my favorite yet. I loved loosing myself in this world where magic is blurry around the edges, so you can't quite tell what your looking at unless you catch it out of the corner of your eye. Gingerbread will be haunting you long after you turn the last page.
Helen
Apr 04, 2019 marked it as jumped-ship
This book put me into a book depression. I don't even know if I like reading anymore.
Robert
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Helen Oyeyemi is one of those authors who I really want to like. I mean her style is not dissimilar to other literary heroes of mine: Allende, Shafak, Rushdie. The fact that she incorporates fairy tales within her narratives makes her doubly exciting for me.

Strangely enough I’ve never been able to warm to her books. Thus Gingerbread was going to be my last attempt at liking an Oyeyemi. Thankfully things did work out this time:

The plot is interesting; three generations of women live together and
...more
Obsidian
I tried. This book was bonkers (not in a good way) and I started getting bored but pushed through to finish it last night and reward myself with Great British Bake Off. I don't know what to say except that sometimes too much magical realism can ruin a story. I couldn't follow a lot of what was going on and then just gave up and kept hoping that things made more sense as I went along. They did not. I think the shifting timelines didn't help matters either since then I would go wait what is happen ...more
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Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist. She lives in Prague with an ever-increasing number of teapots, and has written eight books so far.

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