Robin Sloan’s writing has improved so much since Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I was impressed by the depth and stylistic choices he made in Sourdough. For example, there’s the lovely emails sent back and forth between Lois and Beo. Instead of interrupting the flow of the story, these emails add a fun parallel to the characters’ individual experiences. More than anything, I couldn’t believe how much I loved Lois! This wholesome and lovable heroine is smart, down to earth, fearless and thoughtful. I relate to her on every level. We’re both vegetarians, dedicated bakers of bread, Hogwarts alumni and classical music lovers. This book is the perfect company for those who bake and read.
The first chapter had me hooked. The quote: “Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted,” let me know immediately what kind of book I was reading. I was more than happy to dig in! (No baking pun intended.) I was consumed by the beautiful story of self-discovery. Everything felt new to me, from Lois’s name club to her job at a tech company. It’s a wonderful feeling to discover a character’s story that is similar yet dissimilar from yours.
This story is unique in the genre of magical realism. It’s inspirational and it’s a standalone. While Lois’s story inspires readers to try something new in their lives, it also makes it clear that no journey will ever be like hers. Even after Lois’ starter is stolen, the thief won’t have the same experience with the dough that Lois did. Lois alone knows about the musical secret of her sourdough starter. It’s fitting justice that the thief will never appreciate the starter’s true beauty.
The only reason I can’t rate this book five stars is because I wanted it to go on forever! I already miss the characters at the Marrow market. Also, did anyone else get the feeling that the character Horace was also a character in “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore?” He felt familiar to me. It is too much of a coincidence that Horace has his own bookstore hoard and is an archivist when that’s what Sloan’s other book is about. I can’t remember if there was a character named Horace in “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” but if there wasn’t, this feels like a missed opportunity! I love the idea of Sloan’s books being linked to each other. “Sourdough” is a must read for anyone with a curious mind, a creative heart and a hungry stomach.