Summary: Pizza My Heart
Pizza My Heart follows young Maya Reynolds whose parents are moving from Brooklyn, New York to a small town in Pennsylvania to expand their soul pizza business, Soul Slice. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Maya is devastated to have to leave her best friend and life behind for the move. In the new town, she gets off on the wrong foot with her first pizza delivery customer, who ends up being the son of her parents’ new interior decorator. Add a love for art, a new art exhibition she wants to join but may be unable to, new friends, and a potential new crush — Maya’s life quickly gets interesting.
This is a slice-of-life story that was written for tweens! Many middle grade books these days appear to be written for kids but have serious undertones that lend a greater appeal to adult middle grade readers (which isn’t bad but may not appeal to the majority of tween readers who care little for “literary style” fiction). This book has strong tween appeal and it read to me like a book I would have DEVOURED as a tween.
I also enjoyed the themes in this story and it reminded me somewhat of Michiko’s Jenna Sakai in terms of an art-loving protagonist, a sweet crush, and the Pizza place setting (akin to the diner in Michiko’s book). There’s a fair amount of cooking and eating, so prepare to salivate. I liked the realistic depiction of Maya’s life, her parents, and her school situation. Her parents are really busy with the new business and need Maya to help with deliveries and to prioritize the business over her hobbies — which makes for an engaging narrative arc.
Maya and Justin also have an enemies-to-lovers relationship that readers will enjoy. Although he seems annoying at first, readers will get to understand his reactions and perhaps empathize with his choices. I appreciated Maya’s new friendship with Devin and her maintaining her friendship with her Brooklyn BFF Sasha, despite the distance.
Overall: Pizza My Heart
Pizza My Heart is a cute, relatable middle grade book about moving to a new city, nurturing a love for art, being creative in the kitchen, and finding new friends and community. It features a middle-class Black family and warm familial dynamics. Although Maya isn’t a willing participant, she does help out with pizza deliveries, which is enjoyable to read. Finally, this one might be best for older tween readers since it does feature a crush that (spoiler!) leads to a first kiss and a tween relationship.