Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book-Crush Wednesday (5)

So two and a half weeks ago I was sitting in a ballroom filled with other writers, having just consumed some semi-gross gnocchi (and gnocchi should never be semi-gross, it should always be delicious) and weird chicken substance, awaiting the start of the SCBWI Golden Kite luncheon presentation. To be totally honest, I was assuming the presentation portion was going to be kind of lame. I'd been to these luncheon things before. Often. I have to go to them all the time for my day job, and it's always some dude yapping about something I don't care about and blahblahblah. I figured this would be much the same. I was in it for the food.

Which just goes to show that I'm really, really stupid.

The Golden Kite luncheon was awesome. Some of the best inspirational speeches I heard during SCBWI-LA took place during that lunch, including one by Allen Zadoff, author of Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have (which won the Sid Fleischman award for humor). He talked about some of the issues he faced in high school, and how he wanted to capture that experience in his novel. He talked about how he didn't write Food, Girls to be funny, he wrote it to be truthful, but sometimes the truth is funny - and sometimes it's sad. He talked a little about his road to publication. He encouraged us to keep at it.

Basically, he was awesome, and I wanted his book.

It was a good thing I snatched it up right away, because after his speech, every single copy sold out. (But don't worry, you can get it at IndieBound and major bookstores.) I had him sign it and he was very nice, so I was looking forward to reading the book.

Naturally, it didn't disappoint. Sometimes when I read "fat kid" stories, they kind of bug me. They tend to follow a pattern - fat kid hates him/herself, decides to make a change, then either ends up changing and feels great or accepts him/herself for who he/she is. And although there is definitely some of the "acceptance" theme here, it's done in a very cool way. Andy, the main character, doesn't really hate himself. Maybe he hates himself a little, but no more than the average teenager. He doesn't like the way he looks, but his food is his comfort and he has so much going on that he needs that in his life to cradle him. The point is, while Andy might dislike himself, he needs food more. And we see him take comfort in food in this way that I can SO identify with, because I am definitely a comfort eater (says the girl who ate Swedish Fish for dinner last night.)

Andy has a sense of humor about himself and the rest of the school that is just killer. The narrative voice in this book is awesome - it really was like being inside a teenage boy's head, which was pretty disturbing but also awesome (fortunately Andy is smart and sometimes sweet so it wasn't a bad head to be stuck in). But the funny lines were also mixed in with some heartbreak - stuff happens to him and you're just like, "REALLY? Did you really just do that to Andy? Jerk!"

And the other characters, as seen through Andy's eyes, are fully developed and have stories of their own. The football coach is kind of a riot. April, the girl Andy has a crush on and spends the novel trying to impress...well, I won't say anything about April because I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that some of the things you find out about April make for an intriguing commentary about the people we choose to be. I also adored the character development in Andy's family - they all interact with each other (and food) in such a crazy way that it's kind of fascinating.

If you're looking for a fun yet poignant novel with lively characters and a wonderful male voice, definitely check out Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff!


  1. So, how funny is it that I knew exactly what you were talking about at "semi-gross gnocchi" even before you mentioned SCBWI? Hahaha!

    I agree--awesome speeches at that luncheon. Wish I'd picked up Allen's book. *sigh* Total failure on my part. I'll have to go buy it now--unsigned. Pooh. Awesome review, by the way.

  2. Sounds like an awesome book. I added it to my wish list.


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