Twelve-year old Cady Bennett sets her sights on becoming the best baker in this tale of home, family, friendship, and, of course, pies.
Cady’s had it tough. With a deceased mom and in and out of foster care because of her neglectful yet loving dad, who struggles with alcoholism, she finds herself in a child welfare center just before gruff Aunt Shell, whom Cady has never met, steps in as her temporary guardian. Cady has no idea what to expect when she is whisked away to small-town Julian, California, to live in her mother’s childhood home with Aunt Shell and her partner, Suzanne. Over the course of a summer, Cady works diligently in her aunt’s pie shop baking 1,000 pies—a personal goal. Contemporary topics such as immigration, bullying, and celiac disease mix easily into the plot. Dilloway whips up a gentle mix of sweet and savory themes with a lovable and diverse cast that includes an undocumented Latinx family and a same-sex couple; Cady herself has olive skin, and her grandpa—Shell’s father—was Mexican. (Cady’s dad and Suzanne seem to be white.) None of the issues feel forced; rather, there is an authentic compassion underlying them. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will find a satisfying story and another heroine to cheer on as Cady faces her past traumas from neglect and bullying in her search for permanence. While at times the pace slows, readers will ultimately find Cady’s journey deeply rewarding.
Sweet as pie. (recipes) (Fiction. 8-12)