Sunday, September 26, 2021

#MMGM: Violet and the Pie of Life by Debra Green

Seventh grader Violet Summers, 12, has always thought of her dad as a fun, loosey-goosey free spirit and her mom as a nagging, work driven spoil sport. And to make matters worse, they have been fighting much more than usual. Then, one day, Violet's dad moves out without much of a good-bye and goes radio silent. Meanwhile, at school, Violet's best friend McKenzie Williston talks her into auditioning for the school play The Wizard of Oz. McKenzie really wants to play Dorothy, but is cast as a monkey instead. Violet lands the part as the Lion, and the part of Dorothy goes to Ally Ziegler. Beautiful, talented, biracial Ally happens to be Violet and McKenzie's arch enemy (though Ally is completely unaware of this). McKenzie tries to talk Violet into quitting the play with her, but Violet decides she wants to do it. 

With her father gone, tension between Violet and her mom increases. Violet is sure that if her mom hadn't nagged so much, her father would have stayed. And she is hoping that attending her play will bring her parents together and they can become a whole family again. But the more her dad doesn't respond to her calls and texts, the angrier Violet gets at her mom.

As rehearsals begin for the play, Violet and McKenzie start to drift away from each other. Soon, Violet is eating lunch with Ally and her friends and she discovers that Ally doesn't have the picture perfect life that she and McKenzie always believed she had. 

As Violet's life unfolds, readers also learn about McKenzie's life. Her father had passed away years earlier, and her mother believes in free range parenting, which really amounts to plain old neglect. Her clothes are old and worn, but she had always found comfort in her sleepovers at Violet's house, and gets along well with her mother. Ironically, Mrs. Summers is the stable adult in McKenzie's life. She's is a real estate agent and, unlike Violet, McKenzie is interested in what she does, so Mrs. Summer's is beginning to teach her all about that business.

Parents separating is always hard on the children who inevitably believe it is their fault. Violet's father, who appeared to be a free spirit at first, really is just selfish and immature, behaving more like a spoiled child than a grown man. Her mother does come across as a nag, but as readers get to know her, they will see she is really a caring person who only wants the best for both Violet and McKenzie. 

Violet struck me as quite bratty at first, but she does change over the course of the novel. At first, she lets rehearsals and her father take up so much of her time that she begins to fall behind in school. Luckily, her math teacher is perceptive and quickly realizes that Violet is a math wiz and gives her a special math packet that is more challenging. In fact, one of the ways Violet deals with things in her life is by putting them into graphs, charts and other mathematical diagrams all through the novel.   

The real takeaway from Violet and the Pie of Life is that while math problems always work out just as they should, life doesn't but it does make for an interesting, engaging coming of age novel.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was gratefully received from the publisher, Holiday House
Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday offerings, 
now being carried on by Greg at Always in the Middle


  1. This sounds like a great story. I especially like that it involves theater too. Thanks for sharing it this week.

  2. A lot of drama in this story, but the MC and plot seem to carry it well. I'll be adding it to my future read list. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  3. This books sounds intriguing. I love that it involves theater. It sounds like many middle grade readers will relate to parent troubles. Look forward to reading. Thanks for sharing today!

  4. I do like stories with theatre in them, and I also like great secondary characters, and McKenzie seems like a great one. This sounds like a really good book. I will be looking for this one. Thanks for a great review.


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