“Full of twists, this middle grade story is a heartwarming mix of food and family.”—Kirkus Reviews
When You Reach Me meets Love Sugar Magic in this unforgettable middle grade novel where time travel, family recipes, and family secrets collide.
Maya’s grandmother, Halmunee, may be losing her memory, but she hasn’t lost her magic touch in the kitchen. Whether she serves salty miyeok-guk or sweet songpyeon, her stories about Korea come to life for Maya.
Then one day, something extraordinary happens: one delicious bite transports Maya and Halmunee into one of Halmunee’s memories. Suddenly they’re in Seoul, and Halmunee is young.
This is just the first of many secrets Maya will uncover: that she and her grandmother can travel through time. As Maya eats her way through the past, her questions multiply—until a shocking discovery transforms everything she thought she knew about family, friendship, loss, and time itself.
Brimming with heart and interspersed with seven family recipes that readers can make themselves, this is a story to savor by rising Korean American author Flora Ahn.
Food forms a bridge across time in this affectionately wrought contemporary novel from Ahn (the Pug Pals series). In Southern California, Korean American seventh grader Maya lives in a "still and silent" house with her single mother, who works long hours at a law firm. Quiet gives way to a tense family dynamic, however, when Maya's maternal grandmother, Halmunee, comes to stay, upsetting Maya's mom. Halmunee, who has dementia, loves to cook, and she reintroduces Maya to an array of Korean foods. As the two bond over making patbingsu one day, they are seemingly transported to the past, where they see Maya's younger grandparents and mother enjoying the treat. Through this event, Halmunee reveals that she can travel through time, using food as a connection between moments. Though Maya tries to glean more information about her father, who died when she was three, and about her mother's complicated relationship with Halmunee, her mother remains taciturn and secretive about the past, until Maya's attempts to balance her own life and new abilities come to a boiling point. Maya's changing understanding of her mother, and evocative descriptions of food and its link to memory carry this light speculative read, which offers up a sweet intergenerational relationship that connects past and present. Recipes, along with illustrations from Park, are interspersed throughout. Ages 8–12.