Pie by Sarah Weeks
As befitting the name, this is a sweet, sweet book. I had to love this book, because the opening of the novel revolves around one of my favorite affirmations: Do what you love and the money will follow. It’s something that I’ve always tried to follow, although sometimes it is a hard path. So I’m always excited when even a fictional character demonstrates the efficacy of this approach to life.
So the main protagonist, Alice, has an aunt who also apparently ascribes to this philosophy (which is never stated in the book--I’m bringing this to the story). Aunt Polly loves to make pies...and not just any pies, but pies with the sweetest, juiciest fruit, the dreamiest cream fillings, and the flakiest crusts. When she is left with a modest inheritance, Aunt Polly uses it to open up a pie shop. However, there is a catch to Aunt Polly’s pies--she refuses to accept payment for any of them. If she exchanged them for money, why, that would take all the joy out of them!
The small town in which she lives wants to make sure that the supply of pies, each tailored to specific people’s preferences, keep coming, so they find other ways to support the pie shop. And that makes everyone happy, but no one as much as Alice, who not only loves the pies, but the pie maker as well. She sits and talks and helps in the kitchen as much as possible, always knowing that she will never have the same magic touch with the pies that her aunt does.
Then, suddenly, Aunt Polly dies. She leaves the pie shop to the church, and the secret pie crust recipe, that companies have offered lots of money for, to...her cat? And it is Alice’s responsibility to care for the fat, ill-tempered white feline, named after Aunt Polly’s favorite brand of lard. Her mother (Polly’s sister) feels cheated out of a proper inheritance, her father is allergic to cats, and the cat itself hisses and scratches whenever Alice approaches. All this does not bode well for a happily-ever-after ending.
The story leads into a mystery involving break-ins, missing cats, stolen pies, and more. But I don’t think the mystery is really the heart of this book. Rather, it is a book with a lot of heart--love of what you do, love of friends and family, love of community. I enjoyed it, but I don’t see it as a strong Newbery contender. But as a fairly light read to help remind us all about what really matters in life, it is a great book.
Plus, it’s got RECIPES--and they all look tempting!