Our Daily Bread: A Novel

Paperback | April 3, 2012

byLauren B. Davis

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A novel about what happens when we view our neighbours as "The Other" and the transformative power of unlikely friendships; Our Daily Bread is inspired by the true story of the Goler Clan of Nova Scotia.

The God-fearing people of Gideon shun the Erskine Clan, who have lived on North Mountain in poverty, secrecy and isolation, believing their neighbours to be beyond salvation. "That's the mountain," they say. "What do you expect from those people?"

Yet in both groups nearly everyone has secrets and nothing is as it seems.

On the mountain, Albert Erskine dreams of a better and safer life for his younger brothers and sisters. He lives by his code: "You keep your secrets to yourself and you keep your weaknesses a secret and your hurts a secret and your dreams you bury double deep."

In town, young Ivy Evans is relentlessly bullied by her classmates. Though her father, Tom, is a well-liked local, his troubled marriage to a restless outsider is a source of gossip. As rumors and innuendo about the Evans family spread, Ivy seeks refuge in Dorothy Carlisle, an independent-minded widow who runs a local antique store.

When Albert ventures down the mountain and seizes on the Evanses' family crisis as an opportunity to befriend Ivy's vulnerable teenage brother, Bobby, he sets in motion a chain of events that changes everything.

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From the Publisher

A novel about what happens when we view our neighbours as "The Other" and the transformative power of unlikely friendships; Our Daily Bread is inspired by the true story of the Goler Clan of Nova Scotia. The God-fearing people of Gideon shun the Erskine Clan, who have lived on North Mountain in poverty, secrecy and isolation, believing...

Lauren B. Davis is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novelsThe Stubborn Season, The Radiant City, Our Daily Bread—which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and named a best book of the year by bothThe Globe and MailandThe Boston Globe—andThe Empty Room—named a best book of the year by theNational Postand...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 8.75 × 6.35 × 1 inPublished:April 3, 2012Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1443413828

ISBN - 13:9781443413824

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding I just finished reading Our Daily Bread and I loved it. Ms Davis tackled subjects that are as difficult as can be imagined, but did it in a way that managed to be respectful and disturbing at the same time. This was the first of her books that I've read, but I now look forward to reading much more.
Date published: 2015-08-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Our Daily Bread In a fury to get to the next page, so sad it is over. Such an important story.
Date published: 2014-06-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Started good.... I was really enjoying this book but it went on & on and then the ending came up so fast it was disappointing, it could have been so much better :o(
Date published: 2014-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Started good.... "In the unforgiving light that seemed to fill the cabin - the light of exposure, of being known - Albert imagined his life and his pride as rocks easily turned over, revealing all the wriggling, shameful things beneath" - Lauren B. Davis This was a wonderfully written and disturbing read. Davis captures the very real process that leads us to define ourselves in relation to others. The negative aspects of human nature that cause us to place a higher value on those like us while devaluing and dehumanizing "others". Davis lays bare the stark consequences of these actions and introduces us to some of the victims of our own inhumanity. This is a must read for those with strong stomachs.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Started good.... At first I almost put this book down because the description of events was so raw and disturbing however as the story progressed it completely captivated me and I could not put it down.This story as well as the author's comments at the end of the book make you reevaluate how you see and treat your neighbors,friends,acquaintances and mankind in general.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Started good.... Wow! If you ever feel dysfunctional, this is the book to read if you can stomach it.
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great book. At times it was hard to read about child abuse in this story but the ending delivered a much needed message about not looking the other way and taking action. Read the author's notes to get the story behind this novel.
Date published: 2013-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Difficult material but 100% amazing Picking a book for my book club is serious business. The way our group works, we have one opportunity to pick and host per year and so you don’t want to choose a dud. The women in our group our merciless [cough] The White Iris [/cough] and it sucks to be on the receiving end of a book choice gone bad. Usually I spend a lot of time choosing my book. This year I thought I would choose something from my own massive tbr pile, but the problem was that every book I selected from my shelf was unavailable at local stores. In the end, I headed over to Indigo to peruse the shelves. The only criteria at that point was that there were enough copies on the shelf for the members of my club. In the end, I chose a book I’d never heard of but which was plastered with accolades and a bright red sticker proclaiming that it had been longlisted for the Giller in 2012. Feeling confident of its pedigree, I brought home Lauren B. Davis’s novel Our Daily Bread. Davis’s novel owes some of its gripping story to the real-life Golers from South Mountain, Nova Scotia. But Davis is quick to point out that Our Daily Bread is not ABOUT the Golers. While it’s true that Davis’s fictional Erskine family shares some similarities with the real-life family, that is only one small part of this mesmerizing and beautifully-written tale. Albert Erskine is not like the rest of his violent, drug and alcohol addicted, sexually deviant family. He has already separated himself from the pack by building himself a small shack away from the main buildings on his family’s “compound” on North Mountain. His uncle Lloyd comments on Albert’s ‘otherness’ by saying: “You don’t act like the family at all now, do you? Don’t come visiting. Live in your little shack. Course maybe you have your own parties. That it? You have kids come to see you?” It’s near impossible to trace the branches of Albert’s family tree. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of younger kids with questionable DNA and Albert regards them with a mixture of annoyance and helplessness. When ten-year-old Toots stops by his shack looking for food, Albert ponders the sticky question: “What would she be like, if she’d been raised in some other place?” Albert often wonders how he might be different if his circumstances had been different. It’s a painful road for both Albert and the reader to travel. Down in Gideon is another family with their own struggles: Tom and Patty Evans and their children Ivy and Bobby. Tom is a good man. He grew up in Gideon and is well-liked and well-known. His wife, Patty, is another story. For starters, she’s from away. And although Tom seems desperately in love with her, she seems detached and unhappy. No matter what Tom does, it’s not good enough. As the tension in the household escalates, Ivy and Bobby seek shelter elsewhere. For Ivy, it is with the benign widow Dorothy Carlisle; Bobby’s new friend and confidant turns out to be Albert Erskine. The intersection of these lives makes up the bulk of the narrative of Our Daily Bread. I am guessing that some of the women in my group will have difficulty with the graphic (but never, imo, gratuitous) nature of the subject matter. As a mother, it’s certainly upsetting to see children in peril. The interesting thing about this book is that peril means different things to different people. Is Ivy’s falling-apart life any less horrible because she has a warm bed to sleep in? The impact Bobby and Albert have on each other’s lives is astounding and heart-breaking, too. Bobby is filled with a fifteen year old’s rage and angst and it isn’t until the novel’s powerful climax that he understands the value of his father’s love. It truly is the mark of a great novel when you can empathize with so many of the characters. I loved Ivy’s resolute determination and Albert’s jaded hope and Dorothy’s refusal to bend to the will of small-town politics. And I loved Tom. A lot. As he copes with his unraveling marriage, as he asked himself the question, “How can I ever trust myself again?” I just saw so much of myself in him. But, ultimately, it all comes back to Albert. I so desperately wanted him to get in his truck and just go. I will be thinking about him for a long time. Our Daily Bread isn’t ‘light’ reading, but this is a book that will stay with you long after the final page is turned. As expected, our discussion of this book was lively and we were SO excited to be able to Tweet with Ms. Davis about her book. You can read some of that conversation at the bootom of my review here: http://theludicreader.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/our-daily-bread-laurenbdavis/
Date published: 2013-02-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dark A well written but dark read. Story stays with you long after finishing it.
Date published: 2013-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Compelling Story Once again, through a story that compels and characters who engage, Lauren B. Davis takes the reader into some dark, disturbing places with OUR DAILY BREAD, her fifth book. Her characters seem to ask, “What would YOU do in this situation, if this were you?” And maybe what Davis is saying, without saying it at all: “This IS us at times.” Yet, there’s always a little light leaking out of the darkness, a glimmer of hope that it doesn’t have to be us; we can do better, be better. A marvelous book written with understanding and unflinching compassion.
Date published: 2012-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting The images the writer conjured up in the first chapter and then on will stay with me for a long time. I could not put this book down. So emotional and mysterious, reading page after page and not wanting to know, not really, what was going to happen next. Hauntingly Sad.
Date published: 2012-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant! I read a recent review of Our Daily Bread on the book blog Reading Matters http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/2012/05/our-daily-bread-by-lauren-b-davis.html It sounded very good, and I must say I wasn't disappointed. Very fast pace, great characters and a phenomenal build-up to the dramatic and satisyfing ending.
Date published: 2012-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from gripping story that captured all my attention I read a great review about Our Daily Bread and bought the book. It sure didn't disappoint me - I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters, the plot, and the writing. I hadn't heard about the Goler Clan in Nova Scotia, but the fact this was inspired by this true story really made a difference for me. I think the author captured aspects of human behavior that I see around me every day, and shone a light on it in a way that really makes you think about your own behavior. I highly recommend this oustanding novel, which I'm sure will continue getting well-deserved attention. I'm going to be recommending Our Daily Bread for my book club.
Date published: 2012-04-24
Rated out of 5 by from "Animal, plant, or mineral?" Seems like an innocent enough question, the opening to a familiar game. Yet if you point out that human beings fall under the "animal" category, many people will bristle. "We aren't animals," they sniff. "We're more evolved than that." And they're right, to a point. But part of that "animal" remains in our "human" nature; it leads us to fear what we don't understand, and to -- on some level -- hate what we fear. We are "better than that," and "keep up with the Joneses," and quick to push others into the mud in order to keep ourselves looking spotless. Survival of the fittest, after all, is part of evolution. OUR DAILY BREAD by Lauren B. Davis cuts to the root of "us" and "them," of human nature at its best and worst, and all the shades of grey in between. For hundreds of years, the divide between the good townspeople of Gideon and the notorious Erskines on North Mountain has been reinforced, generation after generation. It's a hostile and parasitic relationship. Whispers of monstrous things occurring on a daily basis are dismissed by the townspeople -- "Well, what do you expect from the Mountain?" -- while the Erskines are quick to point out (and exploit for material gain) the hypocrisy of the people of Gideon. Set against this powder keg are the compelling stories of a young man struggling with his identity, to escape the labels he has worn his whole life, a family in the midst of falling apart, and an older woman whose heart urges her to make a difference even as she tries to mind her own business. These characters live and breathe, are people we recognize from our own lives and are aspects of ourselves. Gideon could be anywhere, and deep down we know that, somehow, this could happen to us. That alone would keep the pages turning, but as the stakes get higher and the action speeds up, there is no putting this book down. It demands to be seen through to the end. OUR DAILY BREAD is a compassionate, insightful and riveting read, but its message lingers long after the last page is turned. There is hope for the hopeless, and those thought to be "too far gone" -- even in their own eyes -- have potential for redemption. Most of all, as human beings, we need to look at each other with kindness rather than judgement, doing our best to subdue the remnants of the beast we all carry within ourselves.
Date published: 2012-03-30

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Editorial Reviews

"Powerful, harrowing, and deeply unsettling. It keeps you reading as your blood pressure mounts... proceeds like a noose gradually tightening... stark, beautiful, sad and frankly terrifying... finely crafted, with careful attention to characterization, style, and pacing. It succeeds on every level." -- The Quill & Quire"Absorbing, strikingly-written, and subtly-honed . . . a page-turner!" -- Gordon Hauptfleisch"Full of remarkable moments . . . a level of detail that puts us in the beating hearts of imperiled souls . . . simple, brave, powerful scenes, skillfully written with an anger no less effective for being tempered - scenes that sit with the soul long after the book is closed." -- Alan Cuymn, The Globe & MailNamed as one of the "Very Best Books of 2011" by The Globe & Mail and the Boston Globe."Thrilling . . . unflinching . . . unforgettable. Davis makes us care about her characters . . . imaginatively transformed by exquisite prose. Her moral fiction calls us to empathize, read, imagine and hear. This is a story of getting lost in the woods, of meeting the monster and getting out alive." -- Jean Randich, Truthdig.com"I'll never forget this book, the sunning power of the descriptions, the attention to detail, the riveting plot, the fully-realized characters--this is storytelling at its very best." -- Duff Brenna, author of The Book of Mamie, The Holy Book of the Beard, Too Cool"From the first chapter of OUR DAILY BREAD...I was hooked--by the characters, by the flow, by the clean, rhythmic prose." -- Thomas E. Kennedy, author of The Copenhagen Quartet"Rendered with gorgeous prose, this compact, fast-moving novel features an astonishing range of tones, from hope to heartbreak, from black humor to white-knuckle terror." -- Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion