For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)
Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.
Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.
Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home.
I’ve been reading book about Covid-19 since Covid-19 was still locking everyone at home. For me, it’s cathartic in a way to read about so many other people’s experiences of this one global experience. It’s a connection to basically everyone in the world, which I find quite incredible, though of course it’s not the connection I’d have asked for. Point being, while the topic can be difficult because of the recent and ongoing pain around it, I do still love reading about it, and this book is a prime example of why.
Mei is my tiny hero. I aspire to be more like Mei. Though this is a book about Covid-19 and it’s onset, it’s also a book about perseverance and generosity and just being a really decent person. Mei not only steps up to help those around her, but she encourages others to do so as well. Standing up to anyone can be tough, but especially tough when you’re a young teenage girl and you’re standing up to a scared mob of large adult men. What a powerful moment that was, among so many others.
There are so many good people in this story, and that’s what kept it from being too overwhelming. There were definitely points where I realized I had wandered off into my own mind and my own memories from the pandemic, but was able to come back to the story again with no issue. Even those folks who were scared and making decisions based on that fear were shown fairly, and not as villains, but as scared people trying to protect themselves, their family, and their community. There’s no villain in this story, just a lot of heroes.
And, yo, I can’t let this go without mentioning the FOOD! A lot of the time, food-heavy stories can wear me out because I’m not interested in cooking and the descriptions can be tiresome. Not this one though: the descriptions were mouth-watering and not overly lengthy. PLUS: IT HAS THE RECIPES!!! Y’all, they sound so delicious, and yet so quick and easy that even I could bother and manage to make them. I’m definitely bookmarking the spicy dry noodles!
Thanks to BookSparks for a free advanced copy of this book. This is my honest review.