The women love the gathering and find comfort in one another's company, but the book also relates the stresses and upheavals of their lives--marriage woes, financial meltdowns, problems with kids and grandkids, deaths. Despite the reach-for-the-Kleenex moments, its message is essentially upbeat: good cookies and good friends can help a woman make it.
Pearlman warmly welcomes me to her house on a woodsy street in Scio Township. Sixty-seven, with expressive brown eyes and wearing a silky, open-sleeve blouse of contrasting colors, she's an earth mother in black nail polish.
Raised partly in Hyde Park--an academic enclave on Chicago's rough South Side--she developed street smarts early. As a social worker, she went on to work with prisoners and delinquent kids. Her own three children, all grown, worried when she interviewed Colton Simpson on his turf in central L.A. But her only complaint about her host, who is now serving eighty years in prison under California's "three strikes" law, was that he kept nothing but Cheerios to eat.