Book Title:
Kids of Appetite
Book Author:
David Arnold
Publishing Date:
September 20th, 2016
Publisher:
Viking Books for Young Readers
Date Read:
September 24th, 2016
Source:
ARC from publisher - Thank you!

Synopsis

The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss.

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.

It begins with the death of Vic’s father.

It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.

The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.

But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.

2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.

3. One dormant submarine.

4. Two songs about flowers.

5. Being cool in the traditional sense.

6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.

7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.

8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.

9. A story collector.

10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.

11. Falling in love with a painting.

12. Falling in love with a song.

13. Falling in love.

My Review

I have had Mosquitoland sitting on my shelf for a while, but for some reason, I tend to keep forgetting it’s there, so I haven’t read it yet.  I’ve heard amazing things about the book and David Arnold’s writing, so when I heard that Kids of Appetite was coming out, I knew that I absolutely had to read it.

Now that I’ve experienced David Arnold’s writing, I can say that he deserves every ounce of praise that he has received thus far.  Kids of Appetite is an original, deeply satisfying story that made me laugh out loud, cry, and feel deeply connected to the characters on the pages.  I don’t want to make this review full of spoilers, because honestly, it’s one of those books that you need to experience rather than be told about.  I believe that is part of the allure of this novel – the fact that it’s a bit vague on details in the description, but the story itself is bursting with character and personality.

The book starts with the main character, Victor Benucci, sitting in the police department talking about where he has been for the past week, and why he was protecting an older boy who was linked to a murder.  While Vic rambles about things that don’t make much sense in the beginning of the book, they make a ton more sense and things are cleared up by the end of the book.  When I reflected back on the beginning, I was like “Ohhhhh okay, I get it now,” about a few things.

Anyway, the story is told in chapters that each encompass one day, from the day that Vic picked up his father’s urn and took off out of the house until the day that he and Mad turn up at the police station.  This unique style of writing this novel was definitely a change from traditional chapters.  During the course of this book, we learn a lot about Vic, Mad, and the other characters who make up the Kids of Appetite.

“I used to think love was bound by numbers: first kisses, second dances, infinite heartbreaks.  I used to think numbers outlasted the love itself, surviving in the dark corners of the demolished heart.  I used to think love was heavy and hard.
I don’t think those things anymore.”

Kids of Appetite is a story told from the perspective of both Vic and Mad, with alternating points of view in each chapter.  Doing this really allows for the reader to get to know both of the main characters in the story, and added a layer of depth that made the book a lot more intriguing.  At the beginning of each of these chapters, it takes us back to alternating points of view between Vic and Mad, in which they are at the police station discussing the events that happened to lead them there.  It showcases how one decision leads to another decision, a how everything in your life can change in the course of one evening.  What follows is a heartbreaking and amusing encounter between a group of kids who quickly become family. 

I loved the “leader” of the Kids of Appetite’s description of encounters with others: he calls each character a “chapter” in a book he is planning on writing – he collects their stories with a plan to share them whenever he gets to write his novel.

“‘We are all part of the same story, each of us different chapters.  We may not have the power to choose setting or plot but we can choose what kind of character we want to be.'”

The characters in this novel are bursting with life, especially Coco, an eleven year old girl who has seen more trouble in her life than any young child should.  Baz has also had to deal with a lot, and loss is all too familiar to him.  The book does take on a few depressing tones, especially when Baz reflects on his childhood, but this is such an important part of the book.  As we learn a little bit about each character’s background, we get a glimpse of the hardships and trials that each one has had to go through until they found each other.  It’s a beautiful tale, and it makes you think.

Mad and Vic are perfect characters.  I know there is a kind of insta-love here, when Vic sees Mad for the first time, but in this case, it totally works.  It’s not the annoying, disturbing kind of insta-love that takes over the pages of so many other young adult novels, but it’s deep and meaningful, and you can’t help but fall in love with the love here.  It was beautiful.  It made my heart soar.  It gave me hope. 

Needless to say, I will be reading Mosquitoland as soon as I have the chance.  This book is definitely worth picking up and checking out, and you definitely won’t be disappointed.  There is love, there is friendship, and there is plenty of humor and heartbreak combining perfectly to make a delightful read that serves as a great reminder to be kind to others, because you don’t know what they’ve experienced.

Kids of Appetite is a brilliant example of young adult fiction, and I believe that both teenagers and adults will enjoy it and learn important lessons from it. 

5 stars
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