Noodle Pie

Ruth Starke, Author . EDC/Kane Miller $15.99 (189p) ISBN 978-1-935279-25-9

Eleven-year-old Andy's first trip to Vietnam with his father, a “Viet Kieu” (someone born in Vietnam who now lives overseas), exposes him to internalized prejudices about his heritage and provides insight into the different yet “same-same” struggles of his nuclear and extended families. Initially, Andy distinguishes himself from his pushy relatives by emphasizing his Australian citizenship and criticizing customs that seem unfair (such as his cousin Minh's low status as the child of a divorcée). And the visit soon gives rise to questions: why does his hardworking, penny-pinching father bestow gifts Andy knows they can't afford? Why does the “famous” family restaurant look like a ramshackle shop? Excitement builds when Andy and Minh entice tourists to the restaurant with an English menu, resulting in some lighthearted mayhem (when Andy is unsure about Minh's idea to put a fake blurb from Nicole Kidman on the menu, she replies, “Maybe she been here and nobody notice”). But this episode in stretching the truth leads to greater honesty and compassion all around. This humorous, touching novel is a delicious cross-cultural treat, and includes an appendix of Vietnamese recipes. Ages 9–13. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/22/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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