The Nocturnal Bakery: A Recipe for Midnight

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The Nocturnal Bakery: A Recipe for Midnight
Author: Noriko Oonuma
Specifications: ISBN  978-4591124796
319 pages
10.5 x 15.5 cm / 4.2 x 6.2 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2011
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In a quiet corner of the city is Boulangerie Kurebayashi, a bakery that opens its doors only at night. It's run by the always-smiling owner, Yosuke Kurebayashi, and his foul-mouthed but good-looking young apprentice, Hiroki. Back in middle school Hiroki was racing down the path of delinquency until, at the age of 14, he met Miwako, 12 years his senior. Miwako helped Hiroki with his studies and set him straight; he became quite devoted to her, believing they had been brought together by fate. But six months ago, just as she was preparing to open a bakery, Miwako, now married to Yosuke, was killed in a traffic accident. Yosuke decided to quit his job with the United Nations PKO so he could bring his wife's plans to fruition.

One day, a teenage girl named Nozomi shows up claiming to be Miwako's half-sister, and asks to be put up. Nozomi has been a victim of her mother's free-spirited whims from the time she was born. She was raised by her grandparents until the age of six because her mother couldn't be bothered with her, and even after her mother took Nozomi back, she would periodically leave her with friends and disappear. Nozomi compares her mother to a cuckoo. 

The aromas wafting from the bakery draw a motley group of nocturnal characters to the shop?among them Orie, a single mother with sticky fingers, and Kodama, her grade-school-age boy; a gay cross-dresser who goes by the name of Sophia; and Madarame the scriptwriter, who has multiple telescopes set up in his eighth-floor apartment so he can peep into neighboring buildings. Each has his or her own set of problems, and effectively nowhere else to go. Then Orie disappears, and the people who gather at the bakery pitch in to look for her. In the course of the search, details emerge about their diverse pasts and the hidden burdens they all carry in their hearts.