the truth about twinkie pie

Are you looking for a book as cute and sweet on the inside as its title and cover suggests?  Kat Yeh’s The Truth About Twinkie Pie is it.  I don’t pick up books in the contemporary genre much anymore, but I made an exception in this case.  The lure of a middle grade story that incorporated baking and cooking combined with the adorable art and book design = too much for me to resist.

the truth about twinkie pie by kat yeh
Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei, a name she never says out loud) and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the Gold Coast of New York. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.

That's the recipe for The Truth About Twinkie Pie, a voice-driven middle grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.

GiGi and her sister DiDi (yes, those names are short for something and there’s a fun story to go with) move up north when DiDi wins a nation-wide recipe contest and a million dollars.  GiGi isn’t sure why they need to start over in a new town, but she’s excited (and a little scared) about the prospect of her fancy new school and making friends for the first time.  Luckily, GiGi’s habit of telling the truth helps her find a place and a community, even if one of her new schoolmates seems set against her on principle.  While she’s learning lessons about friendship at school, there’s trouble brewing at home.  GiGi is brave, but she’s also human, and there’s only so much that holding your head high can do when your world goes topsy-turvy.

Let’s talk characters.  Confident GiGi has to overcome a few obstacles throughout the book, but the first one is her status as a southern transplant in a rich northern town.  A lot of the story’s tension revolves around the contrast between GiGi’s experiences and sense of “normal” and the other characters’.  Family secrets and the growing pains of friendship make up the rest of the plot. GiGi’s distinctive voice (and the funny stories she tells in it) sell the setting, the plot, and the relationships between the characters.  It is the best part of the book.  

Another fun bit: DiDi and GiGi’s family recipes at the end of every chapter.  These look like tried-and-true Southern specialties, often with simple (processed!), easy-to-find ingredients.  I love that Yeh weaves in stories and describes the appropriate time to serve a certain dish (determined by mood or special occasion), so that they are truly part of the story, rather than addendums to the chapter.  I’m not usually a Twinkie sort of person, but I may have to make an exception and try Twinkie Pie!

This story deals with some heavy topics, but it’s not a tragedy by any means.  It’s not all sweetness and light, but it’s hope-full, and GiGi herself has a cheerful, colorful personality.  She delights in knowing and seeing the good in those around her (most of the time – she’s not perfect!), so the tone is never dark. 

The way that a certain young character’s revelation is handled near the end of the book could be counted a weakness.  It isn’t unpacked or discussed, and I think young readers might miss it completely, though adults will certainly clue in.  It is something that deserves more time.  The only way that treatment makes sense to me is if Yeh is planning to write companion novel, but I haven’t heard anything of that nature.

In all, The Truth About Twinkie Pie is a sweet story filled with recipes, family secrets, growing up, and figuring out how you’ll end up who you want to be.

Recommended for: fans of Lisa Graff’s A Tangle of Knots, those who like their food and literature served together, and anyone who appreciates character-driven middle grade fiction.

Interested in other food-related posts? Check out Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking!

5 comments:

Maria Cari S. said...

Sounds like a really fun read and I love the cover!

Carole said...

Sounds tempting. I don't actually know what a twinkie pie is! Will have to ask Mr Google. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I read this book this year! Loved it. Recommend it, too!

http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2015/07/eight-hundred-grapeswith-giveaway.html

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

This looks like a fun one -- I think I heard about it first on Deb's blog!

Beth F said...

I like books that combine some fun with more serious topics. I bet I'd love this.

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