From the time I picked up "The Recipe Club" by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel I never could stop reading without getting the jitters to get back to this book. It's such a powerful book about friendship, family and just plain life. Valerie and Lilly write to each other for years. Included in the letters are wonderful recipes. These recipes seem to fit whatever is happening in their life or whatever they are thinking about at that time or not thinking about at that time. So, there are recipes named: Conspiracy Apple pie, Chocolate-dipped cookies and Opera cake with more recipes I haven't named. Val and Lilly are totally different in temperament. In the early years Lilly is anxious to break free and experience life. She doesn't necessarily need a friend's support. She wonders what sex is like. She wants to go all the way and soon, like now. Val isn't in such a hurry. She's willing to wait for an oral report from Lilly about that deeper intimacy. She goes to college while Lillypad, this is what Val sometimes calls Lilly. Lilly fights against going to college. These girls have way different personalities. I thought friendship was based on our "shared likes." Well, we aren't given a elementary school reader about how to make a friend. We just fall in to sharing our chocolate chip cookie and peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the little girl or boy who stands close to us during a spelling bee or at recess. We hope in our subconscious this person will magically like what we like to eat, what we like to play and what we like to laugh at on television. I really paid attention when Lilly and Val began to show and speak their differences to one another. Guess what! It is allowable. The friendship won't necessarily fall apart. Friends might grow closer. There are just periods of time out. It is fascinating to read this long correspondence. Because we also learn about each girl's families. Both girls have interesting mothers and fathers. Lilly's mom is a drama queen, actress, runaway wife. While Val's mom is stuck in a painful mental state not able to do or say much to Val without crying or hiding herself for days on end. Lilly's father, Isaac, is a Psychologist, an extrovert. while Val's father is quiet, gentle, almost invisible. I suppose the behaviors of both mothers and fathers explains the Psychology of both Val and Lilly and Ben, Lilly's brother. I loved some of the illustrations in the book. One sticks out to me the red "get out of jail" card. While protesting the Viet Nam war two of these people are thrown in jail. Then, there is the big, red question mark. On the dot of the question mark are the words "Who ARE You?" The question mark is all about one of the girl's not feeling she knows or understands the other girl any longer. There is an identity crisis going on between friends. I could go on and on about "The Recipe Club." I didn't know the olive symbolized patience and peace. Smilingly I admit to not knowing my parents led a life before I entered their world. Have you ever thought about silent trash trucks? When we were small, did we know life could grow so complicated, more complicated than Darwin's Star orchid? Ok, now I can take a deep breath. I already miss Val, Ben and Valerie. Maybe I should write a longhand letter to a friend. That might make me feel better. Oh, in the letter I must include my apple fritter recipe. Great book.