Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is
By Alice J. Wisler
Published at Bethany House
About the book
When Deena Livingston moves into her grandfather's cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, she plans to keep to herself, start a cake-decorating business, and recover from the heartbreak she left behind in Atlanta. But a special request from Grandpa Ernest compels her to interact with the Bryson City locals, who have some surprising stories to share with the new girl in town.

Can a Dr. Seuss-quoting plumber who shows up at the most unexpected times, a handsome social worker who seems to know exactly what Deena is thinking, and a classroom full of mischievous middle-school students teach Deena to once again embrace the sweet things in life?

Who is Alice J. Wisler?
Alice J. Wisler was only eight when she mixed up Japanese seaweed, Rice Krispies, milk, salt, pepper, and sugar in an aluminium tin and baked it for her five-year-old brother, Vince. From then on, her cooking could only improve. When her children were small, she ran a cake business from her home. She is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. These books were written in the memory of her four-year-old son, Daniel, who died. After graduating from Eastern Mennonite University with a degree in social work, Alice worked in a group home outside of Philadelphia for emotionally challenged children. She later taught English-as-a-Second Language in a refugee camp in the Philippines and at a church school in her birthland of Japan. At her “Writing the Heartache” workshops, she eagerly shares the value of writing through pain. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina with her three children and one pet beagle. Visit her website at

My thoughts
When I choose this book to read, I pick it because of the cover and the fact that the main character wanted to open a cake-decorating business. I thought I could relate to Deena because I do cake-decorating for my own family. Well not quite as professional as Deena could do but still my kids loves their birthday cakes.

So I started reading the book. I was refreshed by it because I was discovering a new author. I like the way that Alice incorporated her own experiences in her writing. Cake-decorating, dealing with emotionally challenged children, teaching, and dealing with death (here as a broken heart)…

Her writing is simple yet very thoughtful. I like that. Reading through the book, I was reminded to having God as a friend need to be full and not kept at a distance when we don’t feel like it. Walking with God, hands in hands, means to fully give him my hand and not just one or two fingers. It is about trust. It is about truth. It is about time. These are needed for various reasons in our lives - Time to heal; trust in God to provide; and truth.

I’ve learned to love the many characters in this novel. I can relate to the peace and quietness of living in the mountains. There are days I wish that our house would be in the country with lots of acreage around us, woods for the kids to explore and lots of birds. Another aspect that I liked in this book is that at one point the kids found an owl sleeping in a tree. Not all characters wanted to see it but Deena did. She observed the bird sleeping – being at peace – even though a multitude of eyes wanted to see him. Sweet! I wish I could observe an owl sleeping in nature. I find that observing nature and discovering it brings me close to the Creator and my Father. It’s as though I can touch him and feel him closer to me.

The more I was reading the novel, the more the song How Sweet It Is (To Be Love By You) kept coming in my head. I searched the lyrics and I find them appropriate for the main character – Deena. She has been hurt in the past and need healing. Deena opens up her heart slowly to the kids and to other people around her. At the end she is a changed person. It takes time to heal and trust again. This is another truth that must not be forgotten by anyone. When we are in the midst of difficult events, when we think we are alone in the world, we must not forget that time is needed and that eventually we need to open up again to others.

Three recipes are included in the book – one being at chapter nineteen while the other two are located after chapter forty. I look forward to try these recipes. Also included in the novel are questions for conversation. More and more readers are coming together to participate to book clubs. This book comes with questions to ponder on and discuss. I highly recommend this book for a book club.

You can find How Sweet It Is in every bookstores even at and

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for posting this review!

    ~ Alice J. Wisler
    author of Rain Song and How Sweet It Is