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How to Bake a Perfect Life Reader’s Guide

By Barbara O’Neal

How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. As a young girl, Ramona has to choose between keeping the baby growing within her, or having a life filled with travel, as her Aunt Poppy had. Have you ever grappled with the choice between motherhood and opportunities in work or life?

2. Most of the characters in the novel find both solace and enjoyment in a passion—Adelaide, Lily, and Katie in flowers; Poppy and Ramona in baking bread; Jonah in music. How do your passions or hobbies impact your life in good times or bad?

3. Ramona is both a mother and a daughter. When you become a parent yourself, does it make it easier to forgive the flaws of your own parents, or harder? What makes the difference? If you are a parent, how did your relationship with your parents change when your children were born?

4. Some of these characters have faced very challenging issues in their lives—the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, the challenge of grievous injuries—and each of them handle these experiences differently. Who copes well? Who does not? How would you have responded differently to these challenges?

5. The relationship between sisters plays an important part in this book. Do you identify with the complexity of these relationships? Which sister do you relate to the most?

6. The process of baking bread is described as a kind of therapy for Ramona, and later it allows for a trust to build between
shy, standoffish Katie and her step-grandmother. What practice in your life has allowed you to build emotional bridges or connect with others?

7. When she first meets Ramona, Katie is fiercely protective of her mother. How does Katie’s acceptance and adoption by Sophia’s family effect Katie’s understanding of her own mother and impact that relationship? How do you see it evolving in the future?

8. How is Katie’s relationship with her mother reflective of the other mother/daughter relationships portrayed in this book?

9. Discuss the role pets play in this novel. How are their personalities a reflection or contrast of their owners?

10. What do you think about Ramona’s choices in relation to men? Did she lose something by turning her back on Cat? What do her choices in men say about her as a person?

11. Ramona’s mother, Lily, comes through for Katie at times in a way she never did for her own daughter. Why do you think this is? Do you think Lily has regrets or would have done things differently with Ramona if she could?

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