The Rye Bread Marriage: How I Found Happiness with a Partner I'll Never Understand
by Michaele Weissman
When they first meet, John— a dashing European, a Latvian refugee, a physics PhD—is hoping to settle down. Michaele, a fast-talking American college student, is hungry for an independent life as a writer and historian. “I am too young, and you are too Latvian,” the twenty-year-old Michaele tells the twenty-eight-year-old John, explaining why she is ending their four-month romance.
Fifteen years later, the two are married. Their love for each other does not assuage the trauma John experienced as a child during World War II; nor does it help Michaele understand her husband’s unwavering devotion to every aspect of Latvian culture, particularly his passion for the dark, intense rye bread of his birthplace (nothing like the rye she knew growing up in her secular Jewish household).
Michaele feels like an outsider in her own relationship, unable to touch a core piece of her husband’s being. So, as John realizes his dream of opening a rye bread bakery, Michaele embarks on a fascinating journey. Delving into history and traveling across Europe with John, she excavates poignant stories of war, privation, and resilience—and realizes at last that rye bread represents everything about John’s homeland that he loved and lost. Eventually Michaele even comes to love rye bread, too.
How do the stories we live and the stories we inherit play out in our relationships? How do individuals learn to tolerate ethnic, religious, and national differences? The Rye Bread Marriage is a beautifully told, often humorous, love story about the messiness of spending a lifetime with another human being. Michaele Weissman reminds us that every relationship is a mystery—and a miracle.
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