The Doughnut Fix

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The Sound of FreedomWhat the Book is About:

When Tristan’s father loses his job, he decides to relocate the family from Manhattan to rural upstate New York. Tristan’s younger sister Jeanine is a math genius who copes by spending all of her time studying and Skyping with her best friend from home. Four-year-old Zoe adapts fairly well, especially after her Dad installs a zip-line in the basement. Tristan is left somewhere in the middle, struggling to maintain a friendship with his best bud from home while trying to find his place in a town that doesn’t have a single restaurant. When Tristan discovers a new friend and a recipe for life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, he realizes that he might be able to put his baking skills to use in surprising ways.

Jewish Content and Values

  • Tristan’s family are culturally Jewish New Yorkers who are regulars at their local deli, which serves traditional Jewish foods including egg and onion and chicken soup. His mother ate there when she was a kid, and still orders kreplach -- which Tristan describes as “Jewish wonton soup” -- as a tie to her own Jewish childhood. 
  • The members of the family affectionately refer to each other as “nuddy” or “nudnik,” a Yiddish word used when someone is being “a bit thick.”
  • The concept of shalom bayit, or peace in the home, is woven throughout this book. As the Levin family struggles to find their footing in a new home, the doughnuts serve as a point of connection for all of them. In their own unique ways, each member of the family helps Tristan achieve his goal. The opening day of the doughnut stand can be seen as the Levin family’s hannukat bayit, or housewarming celebration.
  • A section of Jewish food recipes is included.

Positive Role Models

  • Tristan steps up to the challenge of a major life change by exploring his community, learning to ice skate, and taking on a significant project: starting a doughnut stand with a new friend.
  • Tristan’s sister, Jeanine, struggles to redefine herself after her family moves, and ultimately finds new ways to support her brother and expand her sense of self and her role in her family and community.
  • Tristan’s mother is a professional chef with a dream of starting her own restaurant. She teaches her children to bake and supports Tristan in his goal of starting a doughnut stand.

Content Advisory

  • While attempting to fix the roof, Tristan’s father falls off a ladder and hits his head. He becomes a bit disoriented, and Tristan and his sister end up biking him to the local clinic. He fully recovers from the accident. 

Talk it Over

When Tristan discovers an old community recipe for chocolate cream doughnuts, he and his new friend, Josh, decide to start a business together selling the doughnuts on weekends. If you could start your own company, what would it be?

More For You

Doughnuts are a staple of Hanukkah celebrations.  The Israeli version is called a sufganiya and is traditionally filled with strawberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.  The Algerian version is called sfinge, and is a fried ball of dough with a hole in the center, similar to a  classic doughnut. In recent years, gourmet trends have taken the humble Hanukkah jelly doughnut to new levels, with fillings like chocolate ganache, halva, pistachio cream, and caramel.

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