Some authors dream up bizarre murders and other aberrations to thicken their plots. World of Pies proves that even the simplest of stories can leave readers fully satisfied. The first novel by Austinite Karen Stolz, World of Pies is about coming of age in a small Texas town—specifically Annette, the stomping grounds of Roxanne Milner, who is twelve when we meet her in the summer of 1961. Nothing major happens in Annette over the years, yet Roxanne comes to know heartbreak and happiness as thoroughly as the reader comes to know her and her loved ones, including her mother, who “always gets really emotional about the Kennedys,” and her father, whose secret lunch-hour rendezvous Roxanne never divulges. Stolz is a remarkably powerful but restrained writer; expect World of Pies to choke you up without warning more than once. And even the most poignancy-resistant of readers will enjoy the dessert recipes appended to most chapters. The book doesn’t even need this estrogen-heavy embellishment but—since Roxanne tells us that “my family believed mightily in sugar as solace”—the recipes serve as the icing on a literary treat that is itself rich, slightly nutty, and almost impossibly sweet.