It made Andy feel funny inside to say – even to himself – ‘my grandmother’, ‘my aunt’, ‘my cousins’, and to see them all there in front of him. He looked to the very back of the group to see who was considered the least important family member. She wasn’t tall, so he didn’t see her until somebody moved. She had short hair and a fringe down to her eyebrows. There was a sullen expression on her small triangular face, or maybe she was just bored.
When Andy’s father, a former refugee, returns for a visit to Vietnam after twenty years, Andy goes with him. He is interested to see his father’s country and meet his relatives – but he also feels that it isn’t his country. He is Australian.
Andy isn’t too sure he likes his newfound family, either. They are rude, fighting over the gifts Andy and his father have brought, and the family restaurant Andy has heard so much about is a joke. The thing Andy finds hardest to accept is that not everyone is treated equally. His cousin Minh seems to do most of the work, but is the last to eat and receives nothing – not even respect – for her efforts. Andy is determined to change things.
Noodle Pie is an often humorous but also very insightful look into family relationships, cultural differences and the experiences of refugees. As Andy tries to make sense of his extended family’s way of life, he also learns about his father’s past, and gains a greater understanding of why things are as they are, both at home and here in Vietnam.
A fun and informative read.
Noodle Pie, by Ruth Starke
Omnibus Books, 2008