"Do you remember the story I told you about the paper of happiness? And the secret which was one word written over and over again? . . . I have thought a long time about what that word could have been. . . Was it wisdom or honor? Love or truth?"
A young girl sets out on a journey to discover how to change her family's fortune. Reaching the city, she follows a ye... er... black bricked road in the hopes of finding the key the her quest. Advertised as "a timeless adventure story in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz," this beautifully written and illustrated novel by Grace Lin starts out as a charmingly simple tale of a girl who loves stories.
Appearances may be deceiving, however, and while the simple and straightforward writing style might evoke the lightness of Oz, it effortlessly weaves in layers of threads, each of which (just as the Old Man of the Moon's threads in the story) seamlessly ties with its matches in a complex and glorious masterpiece. Characters grow and learn, tell tales and hear them, and somewhere along the way they--and we along with them--learn the secret to happiness.
Just in case you were wondering, it's not peaches. Or french fries for that matter, alas. But this is definitely a book worth reading and rereading and remembering when you feel like complaining about how life is treating you. I'm already ready to read it again.