Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai - ESSENTIAL

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai, 380 pages. Henry Holt & Co. Publishing (Macmillan), 2019. $25.

Language: PG; Mature Content: PG Violence: PG



Jingwen, 11, and his little brother Yanghao, 6, move to Australia knowing very little English and feel like they are betraying the memory of their dead father; who always dreamed of moving there. Instead of trying to learn English and fit in at the new school, home, and friends; Jingwen decides to focus on making all of his father’s recipes for cakes from the “Published (1909)
 Pie in the Sky” dream bakery book, in secret at night while their mother works. As Jingwen refuses to accept his new life, Yanghao embraces English and is happy and learning to read, speak and making friends. As the distance between the brothers grows, Jingwen feels more and more alone and is forced to deal with his grief and the real reason he is making the cakes - he feels like his father’s death is his fault.

Pie in the Sky captures the confusion, fear, and anger that immigration to a new country with a new language and way of life can unearth. The “martian” language Jingwen hears and how he believes that everyone is talking about him and calling him slow is heartbreaking. The relationship between the brothers and calling one another booger and fighting but being each other’s only friend is a great and well written friendship. Lai’s writing is clear and concise and will bring middle school readers into her story and keep them there easily.

Dina W. - ELA teacher

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