I’LL BRING THE CHOCOLATE:
Satisfying a Woman’s Craving for Friendship and Faith
I’LL BRING THE CHOCOLATE starts with a perceptive anecdote. As a guest speaker for a weekend retreat, Karen Porter assessed her Christian audience of “thousands of young, bright, beautiful” college coeds as “the most responsive” she’d ever addressed. That is, until the last session, when she talked about the need for encouraging, faith-building friendships.
“To my dismay,” she writes, “my words fell flat on their ears and hearts.” In other contexts, some version of this talk had worked well. Porter analyzes the situation: “These girls…were still living the friendship dream!” When they left the close community of a college campus and moved into cities, suburbs or small towns, with “all the responsibilities of being an adult,” would they be more hungry for the opportunity “to develop friendships and bond with other women”? After graduation, life does look different in the real world of real houses separated from others by highways and bridges.
Porter is “vice-president of international marketing at a major food company,” which helps explain the book’s preoccupation with…food. As indicated by the title, I’LL BRING THE CHOCOLATE --- ultimately about faithful friendships --- is built on a foundation of chocolate, that word appearing in every chapter title and in nearly every, usually humorous, display-type quote (for example, “When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate” by that prodigious writer named Author Unknown). Porter says, “My hope is that by comparing relationships with the wonderful attributes of chocolate, this book will help you develop richer, deeper, more meaningful friendships.” Chapters end with a “Bringing the Chocolate” section of reader questions, a Prayer, a “Dear friend…” sentiment under the heading “Offering Chocolate to My Friend,” and finally an original recipe featuring substantial amounts of, you guessed it, chocolate.
Having a keen interest in friendship but being immune to the lure of chocolate, I thought the confectionary vision was a bit overblown. (Okay, I admit I just went to the refrigerator to find a chocolate bar --- meaning year-old, leftover Halloween candy.)
Using folksy anecdotes interspersed with exhortations and biblical teachings, Porter explores eight gifts friends can give one another, or qualities that enrich friends and friendships: faith, encouragement, sharing, forgiveness, loyalty, joy, freedom and hospitality. A few highlights? The loyalty chapter tells of a couple who split up for a while but then reconciled. The loyal girlfriends listened and prayed but didn’t condemn. The good result? “When…the marriage-healing process began, their friends regretted nothing.” In the freedom chapter, I hope I misunderstood Porter’s seeming approval of a comment she overheard in a restaurant: “With friends there are no boundaries.” The hospitality chapter includes a feel-good challenge to welcome friends into your home and feed them spiritually and physically, even if it’s nothing more than soup or tuna sandwiches…or maybe hot chocolate.
Porter --- a wife, mother, grandmother and career woman --- has written a sweet book that could edify or satisfy women in all walks of life who are looking for friends.
--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
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