“Everything so far, if Peijing had to sum it up, was a string of small awkward experiences that she hoped would end soon.
The night of the Mid-Autumn festival, making mooncakes with Ah-Ma, was the last time Peijing remembers her life being the same. Now facing a new home, a new school and a new language, everything is different. Peijing thinks everything is going to turn out okay as long as they all have each other. But cracks are starting to appear in the family.
Biju, lovable but annoying, needs Peijing to be the dependable big sister. Ah-Ma keeps forgetting who she is; and Ma Ma and Ba Ba are no longer themselves. Peijing has no idea how she’s supposed to cope with the uncertainties of her own world while shouldering the burden of everyone else.
If her family are the four quarters of the mooncake, where does she even fit in?“
It took me a while to pick this up off my TBR pile – I had got myself into a bit of a reading slump and found it difficult to find a book which was going to keep my attention. However, the heartwarming story of Peijing and her family moving to Australia really caught me with its honest emotion.
Peijing’s father has always been strict and disciplined, with long work hours and a clear position as the provider of the family. Her mother works hard to keep the girls on track with their achievements, and keep the home as it should. We see, from Peijing’s perspective, the contrast of cultures she notices after the move, and how different families and their members hold different roles. I felt that her thoughts and feelings were explained really well, giving the reader some understanding of what it might be like for a family to emigrate – not only with the culture outside the home, but also how their own perspectives within it may become changed, too.
My favourite part of the book, is the relationship which developed between Peijing and Joanna, and how much they teach each other, and learn about not only the world around them, but themselves. Joanna was written in a sensitive way whilst still invoking empathy in the reader and giving not only Peijing, but the reader a new perspective to how we judge those we meet; everyone has their own experiences and challenges, despite appearances.
Part of the book I feel resonated most with me was reading about Peijing and her little sister, Biju, joining school. I reflected on how I make children feel who are in the same situation – do they feel welcomed and accepted? It was a real reminder that books are a tool for reflection and it made me think what I can do to improve my practice in the future – how can I give a child in Peijing’s position even more of a voice?
If you’d like a copy, buy it here.
📚 Book gifted