Need an uplifting story? The new UpLit genre includes books that have an uplifting message of some kind. That doesn’t mean there’s no conflict or that the characters don’t struggle. Rather, at the end, there’s an uplifting message of hope and faith in the human spirit.
Longing for Normal is the uplit story of an orphaned boy who finds a home, loses it and finds it again with the help of a simple sourdough bread recipe.
Eliot Winston was in foster care when he caught the attention of Griff Winston, the school nurse. After getting to know each other, Griff decides to adopt Eliot. In fact, Griff also proposes to a childhood sweetheart which means Eliot will finally have a real family with a mom and a dad. They go to court to finalize the adoption and Eliot is in heaven.
But then, Griff develops a brain tumor and dies.
Eliot and his new step-mom Marj are left to figure things out. Will she sign the final adoption papers or send him back to foster care?
Eliot and Alli – Two Troubled Kids
Alli Flynn has also been in foster care, staying with one family for years. She thought it was her forever home until—the mom becomes pregnant and suddenly Alli is out. Her new foster home is cold and unloving. But all Alli wants is to meet her new brother or sister. She must escape long enough to do that.
Two troubled kids. What do they have to battle the world with?
A simple sourdough recipe. The Winston family has kept a sourdough starter going for 150 years.
Here’s an excerpt from the first time Eliot and Griff made sourdough together:
Home. The sharp smell of sourdough always brought memories of Griff. On one of my first visits to Griff’s house, four years ago, when I was just a foster child for another couple, we made our first loaf of bread together. It was a long holiday for Presidents’ Day in February. My foster family went on a family trip, so Griff invited me to stay over. Friday night, Griff pulled a glass jar from the fridge. “Ever make bread?”
I tapped the jar, puzzled. It seemed to be full of a yellowish-white liquid with foam on top. “No. Doesn’t bread just come from the store?”
Griff launched into a big lecture on sourdough. He was like that, knew so much about science and the world. Loved explaining things. Not like lecturing from a teacher, so much as giving me a gift of knowledge.
Griff’s voice still echoes in me, like echoes from a booming voice would linger for a long time in a canyon: Sourdough, he said, is made from a combination of yeast and bacteria. The yeast gives off gases which makes the bread light and fluffy. The bacteria gives it a sour taste. Today, most breads rise too fast and the bacteria doesn’t have time to develop that sour flavor.
Taking off the lid, he held out the jar.
I took a whiff. “Stinks.”
“Heavenly smell,” Griff said and grinned that huge grin that showed his one false tooth in the front of his mouth. “Kinda like dirty socks.”
That smell, that amazing smell, followed us all weekend as the bread rose, was punched down, and rose again. Finally the loaf came out of the oven, and Griff slathered it with real butter and handed it to me.
I chewed and considered.
“Well?” Griff demanded.
I made him wait, taking another bite and leaning my head from side to side.
I gave in and giggled. “Heavenly,” I said, using Griff’s word.
And Griff beamed, lighting up a place in my heart that I thought would never be lit by anyone again.
When school starts that fall after Griff died, they decide to do a Bread Project. They’ll start with one jar of sourdough starter and each week, people will pass on new starter to the next person. Here’s how Marj explains it.
“Next week, the first person will pass one cup of starter on to the next person. Then two people will have the sourdough starter. They will feed it and let it grow a week and then, the next week, those two will give to two more, so there will be four jars of starter. Double that the next week for eight jars of starter.”
My slides flickered–quickly–on the cracked screen behind Marj. Quickly. Explaining how each week the number of jars of sourdough starter would double. By Thanksgiving, ten weeks from now–1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512–there would be 512 jars. Enough for each student to take home a jar of starter.
With a pyramid scheme like this, the project is bound to fail. But Eliot can’t let that happen. With Alli’s help, they dig into the community and visit home after home, encouraging everyone to bring bread to the Thanksgiving feast. And this international community shares their favorite bread recipes: Pan dolce, ciabatti, ekmek, naan, pretzels, poori, pita. English muffins, raisin bread, cinnamon rolls, Kaiser rolls, potato rolls. Loaves of rye breads, whole wheat breads, just plain white loaves. Focaccia. Dutch Crunch. Everything from A to Z: Anadama to Zucchini-Carob Bread.
In the end, it’s the spirit of Eliot and Alli that triumphs. It’s an uplifting story of a trouble family who finds peace through a simple sourdough bread recipe.
Read this uplifting story now! Buy a paperback or hardcover here, or ask your local library for an ebook copy through Overdrive.