Sweet Pizza by G R Gemin
|Sweet Pizza - GR Gemin|
Sweet Pizza is a heartwarming novel about a 14 year old boy who develops a vision to keep his family heritage alive, and he learns a lot about community spirit and efforts along the way.
I was attracted by the plot, which was based not on a thrilling page-turner, but rather a young teen boy’s attempt at saving his family’s Italian café on a small Welsh village’s high street. This was interwoven with a sub-plot – told as an oral history by Joe’s Nonno - about Italian immigrants during WWII. The sub-plot added a riveting and deeper dimension to what is already a charming and comic story.
The plot is feel-good and generous-hearted. It abounds with loveable characters: entrepreneurial Joe (is he a Welsh-Italian or an Italian-Welsh?), Nonno (Joe’s grandfather), Combi (Joe’s best friend who has a very mixed-Caribbean heritage), and Mimi (the bellissima Italian cooking cousin).
The novel overflows with family love, community spirit, oral history, food, Italian communication, opera, Polish sausage, immigrants and the problems facing many small town high streets. There are also quite a few pages about cooking – and even some recipes at the back – so perfect for aspiring Jamie Olivers.
Interestingly, the story depicts many of the teenage characters as being more open to each other and new ideas, as well as embracing their history and traditions.
This middle grade story perfectly captures the normal everyday contributions that immigrants add to a community, and weaves this into a charmingly funny little story.
Sweet Pizza gets a thumbs up.
Nosy Crow, London, 2016, paperback
This copy: review copy from the publisher
Sweet Pizza has been nominated for the 2017 Carnegie Medal.