You know, I never thought Orson Scott Card would ever teach me how to make a decent, flaky pie crust, but I was wrong.
I feel sometimes like I learn all my important life lessons from fiction. (pie is definitely important!) I know authors are supposed to try to write stories that feel real, but I find that real life often feels like fiction. Like falling in love. When I met Jim I couldn't believe how true all those stories and books were... except that it feels so much more electrifying when its yourself experiencing life.
But back to pie crust... baking is really difficult for me to grasp. I know all the rules. Weigh your ingredients carefully. Don't mess too much with things that will get tough and hard easily (most pastries). But it wasn't until I read a passage between the king's head baker and an apprentice, that it occurred to me to really feel the dough, treat it gently, and notice things about it. The result was chicken pot pie that melted in my family's mouth and had everyone clamoring for thirds and fourths.
How does Orson Scott Card know this stuff? I have no idea, but the fact that somewhere in the midst of a story about a teenage boy learning about girls and magic, OSC sneaked in a passage about baking. I also learned how to handle needles without freaking out, what a stone mage was, and that you really don't want a nasty uncle who can turn into an eagle.
This was definitely a boy book though. I'd like some guy to read it and tell me if it rang true for them. The (awkward?) exit from boyhood. I'm not sure I'd ever wished before to be in the head of a teenage boy, but it was a fascinating ride nonetheless. It helps that Orson Scott Card develops disgustingly cool magic systems. This one is based on the premise that the Olympian gods of yore are really just people from a different world where magic is more prevalent. There are lots of a different kinds of mages, and they strengthen their power by going from their world to our world. But something happened a long time ago and the gate was closed up, lost forever. The gods (i.e. mages) have been floundering here on earth ever since.
Enter Danny North. Almost your typical homeschooled kid, if you discount the fairies, ghosts, talking animals, living stones, walking trees and gods who call the wind and rain.
Not exactly the type of story you'd expect to learn baking in.