This new middle grade novel by Erin Soderberg Downing sure packs an emotional punch for being only 256 pages. Three Peach family children, 12-year-old Lucy, 10-year-old Freddy, and 8-year-old Herb, are left grieving the loss of their mother while their professor dad how thrown himself into his work. But this year, dad came up with a crazy idea to honor their mom’s memory. Over the summer they will live out one of Mom’s dreams – buy a food truck and travel the country, selling pies as a family. The only problem is, they know practically nothing about pie, about food trucks, about being a vendor, and their father has been emotionally distant since the loss of mom. This sets the stage for what could turn out to be a beautiful life-changing experience OR a complete disaster as the Peach family wrestles with loss, bonding, and problem-solving.
I appreciate that much of the food truck research was done beforehand by Dad (or else this venture couldn’t have been remotely possible). Additionally, I was impressed by the fact that we see realistic behaviors and feelings, like anger, sorrow, and frustration. They face truck mechanical troubles, differences in goals, camping struggles, problems with permits, and even baking disasters. But each member of the Peach family is focused on working together to make this a success. They all want to win the final vendor event, but perhaps there’s something more important to gain in the process.
Throughout the story, Lucy writes home to her aunt to share bits and pieces of their adventure. And we glimpse portions of Freddy’s journal sketches in each chapter, which adds charm to the road trip. By the end, I was all in – wanting the family to win, but also WANTING A SLICE OF PIE. Seriously, if this is a read aloud in the classroom or at home, make sure to provide pie for your listeners!
I’ll also note that I’ve heard this is just the first book in THE GREAT PEACH EXPERIMENT series, so I’ll be looking forward to more adventures with this beautiful family! Thank you to Pixel+Ink and Edelweiss+ for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. This book publishes TODAY (April 6, 2021), so go order your copy right away!