This review and tour stop are written by Adelina of Home Maid Simple. A copy of the book Making Manna was provided by PR by the Book.
Libby Thompson is just fourteen years old when she flees her abusive home with her newborn son, Angel. Now they must build a life for themselves on hard work and low wages, dealing with police who are sometimes helpful-but not always-and a drug dealer who is full of surprises. As Angel gets older, he begins asking questions about his family, and Libby’s tenuous peace threatens to crumble. Can a son without a father and a young woman without a past make something beautiful out of a lifetime of secrets? Making Manna explores the depths of betrayal, and the human capacity to love, flourish, and forgive in the face of heartbreaking odds.
Q&A with Author Eric Lotke
Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?
I don’t really have favorites. My tastes are diverse and changing. I enjoy biographies by Doris Kearns Goodwin and political science by Jacob Hacker.
The best novel I read lately was The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich. It’s copyright 2002 but the setting is America post WWI and the characters are timeless. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward was a highlight of 2015 and I expect it to last a while. It’s the memoir of an African American woman in low-income America. All of the men important in her life disappear over a couple of years — shot, drugged, suicide or jailed. But somehow the police who happily patrol the neighborhood every night with searchlights can’t manage even to arrest the drunk white driver who kills her brother.
I’ve also been delighted to re-read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The first time was on my daughter’s recommendation. The second time was voluntary after seeing the movie.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I am opportunistic in time and space. I work full time and I have two kids. I drive them to practices, lessons and activities – and have an hour or two to write while I wait. When I was lucky, I’d have a whole half-day at home on a weekend. It mattered that I wasn’t on deadline. If I needed time to figure something out or went a month without a free minute, that was okay. I always keep a notebook handy. My creativity is better than my memory.
What do you hope readers will take away from Making Manna?
First, I want readers to have a good time. Escapism is okay. You deserve a break today. You bought my book: I owe you a good time.
But I also want readers to reflect on the understory and worry about the injustice, especially in the justice system. The obvious problem is bad cops and excessive prison terms. The subtler problem is that people who need protection don’t get it, and people who’ve been hurt don’t get help. That’s a different failing of our justice system. I explore those failings and show a different way out.
I read a lot of books. It’s one of my most favorite ways to relax. There are some nights I can be found staying up all night to read because I just can’t put the book down. Making Manna was one of these. I feel the need to start out by saying, though, this book is not for children. It has very adult topics discussed. I hate to give anything away, but just a few touchy subjects you should know before picking this one up – incest and drugs are 2 of the main topics and driving forces behind Making Manna.
With that out of the way, the story itself I was riveted to. Libby’s struggle to care for her and her newborn, and eventually being thrust with another child who is more like a sister in age, is a story of self-respect, and drive to be better. For most of the book, I was trying to figure out why the title Making Manna? That is revealed closer to the end of the book, as Libby and Angel begin baking bread together. It’s the tip of the story that soon resolves every problem.
Have you ever made bread? It can be messy with kids, but one of my other favorite ways to spend an afternoon. I felt a personal connection to Libby as she taught Angel how to make bread, and told him how she used to do the same with her mom.
Take a peek inside Making Manna
One reader will win a copy of Making Manna. Open to US 18+ and ends 4/8/16.