Wednesday, September 28, 2016

kids of appetite: stardust reviews

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold



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.

full review under the cut! 

 I'm going to be 100% honest with you guys. I absolutely freaking love Mosquitoland, which is the other book that David Arnold has published. I thought it was one of the most brilliant and beautiful things that I'd ever read. I cried a lot during it. I was inspired. I marked up my book underlining my favorite quotes. Why am I telling you this? To let you know what enormous shoes this book was trying to fill for me. I didn't go into this one expecting it to be as much of a favorite as Mosquitoland was, because those types of favorites are really rare, I think. HOWEVER!!! Just because this was not an insta-classic for me like Mosquitoland was does NOT mean that this book was not incredible in a gut punching way. 

I loved this book. It was somehow laced with feeling, and that shone through in every word on the page. I think there's just something about the way that David Arnold writes that makes me feel more deeply than I do on a regular basis. This book includes tough things, but never once did I go to a place of utter desolation. I think this book is mostly about hope in the face of things that are hopeless, and I felt that in my bones. 

This book is mostly about our two main characters, Vic and Mad. Vic is a boy who has semi-recently lost his father and more recently felt like his mother is slipping away from him. He's got an incredibly rare condition called Moebius syndrome, which means that he has facial paralysis, cannot smile or frown, has trouble swallowing, etc. He loves art, and he sees beauty that simmers underneath the surface. He misses his dad in a way that is visceral. He's adrift, and through meeting Mad and some other pretty unforgettable characters, he finds an anchor. 

Mad is a girl who has not-so-recently lost her parents to a drunk driving accident. She keeps one side of her head shaved to show the scars she has from that night, she loves Elliot Smith and venn diagrams and her gradnmother, Jamma, who has dementia. Her legal guardian is the drunken, abusive Uncle Les, to whom there is more than meets the eye, and she is kind of a badass. Her favorite book is the outsiders. She and Vic have a connection that just is. It doesn't have to develop. 

The premise of this book is a little slippery when you first begin. It opens on Mad and Vic in the Hackensack, New Jersey police station. They're there because Mad's uncle is dead. And the police thing that Mad and Vic have information on how he died. They're right, just not in the way they think that they are. The story is told mostly in flashbacks, detailing the events of the week leading up to Mad and Vic in the police station. The events of this week mostly revolve around Vic meeting Mad and her friends, and these kids helping Vic to lay his dad to rest by way of scattering his ashes in various places. Who are these kids, Mad's friends, you ask? They're the Kids of Appetite, a found family that is related not by blood but by choice.

They are:
Baz, the oldest of the group who, along with his brother, escaped from the Congo when they were young kids. He doesn't eat bread, or soda, and knows an awful lot about the bible and the nature of God. He collects things. Not trinkets, but the stories of other people. These stories he calls Chapters, and one day he's going to put them in a book. Vic is the latest chapter that Baz takes under his wing.
Zuz, Baz's younger brother. Hasn't spoken a word since they left the Congo, for reasons that you will find out when you read this amazing book. He speaks in other ways, though, and has lots to say if you know how to listen. He loves Journey and dancing and is fiercely protective of his found family. 
and finally, Coco. Small, redhead, twelve years old with a mouth like a sailor. From Queens, sort of orphaned, Baz and Zuz are her home now. She writes songs and makes declarations, and she loves ice cream more than anything in the world, except maybe a truly excellent slider. Precocious and wild. 

The book really starts when Vic finds out that his mother is going to remarry, to a man that he feels is RATHER inferior to his father. Vic snatches his father's ashes and runs, right into the arms of Mad and the gang. Inside the urn with his father's ashes, Vic finds a riddle from his father to his mother, telling her where to scatter his ashes, and this becomes a scavenger hunt for Vic and the Kids, to lay his father to rest. It's just a really beautiful story about the love between parents, between a parent and a child, between siblings, between friends, and between lovers. One of my favorite parts of this book was in Vic's memories of the relationship between his parents, which was so moving and emotional for me. Also moving is Mad's memories of when her family was whole, Coco's life story, and Baz's stories about how he lost his own parents long ago. There's just something so sad about this book, every single person in it is broken somehow, but they aren't depressed and out of it, they are always looking forward to new things, new goals, better lives ahead. I was just really emotional throughout the book, I really really think that you should read it, because even if you aren't tenderhearted, it is bound to tug at your heartstrings. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

80% Read the Printed Word!