Title: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold
Release date: September 20th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Verdict: Solid four stars.
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 contemporary is framed in a really unique way: not so much a murder mystery as much as a quest to fill in the missing pieces of a life left unfinished. We start a full week before the “present day,” when Vic (our main character) meets the Kids of Appetite (basically a ragtag group of kids with seemingly no parents and no place to call home) while eavesdropping on them in a grocery store. He’s often made fun of or simply gawked at by the rest of the town due to having Moebius Syndrome, which causes partial facial paralysis, and when he runs into Mad (aka “the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen”) he runs home, never suspecting that these mysterious outcasts will shortly be his ticket to mending the broken mass his family has become following the death of his father. The “present” story (told from two interrogation rooms, one with Vic, one with Mad) is broken up with multiple POV snippets detailing the events leading up to the current situation, including how the Kids of Appetite came to be.
David Arnold creates a compelling story with these six kids and their individual tales, each dealing with something significant that unravels throughout the entire novel. Themes of death, disability, mental illness, domestic violence, foster care, war – they are all parts of a larger puzzle, collected together in a single book that gives them each the time they deserve to come to terms with where their lives are at and to give it meaning. It’s truly a beautiful standalone novel that had my heart hurting for these kids and appreciating a lot of the little things that I see in strangers but rarely, if ever, take the time to think about. This is one of those books that doesn’t need to be perfect to resonate with you long after reading and stick with you when you see people who need a little kindness in their day.
“I’ve been working on one,” she said.
“A declaration.” Coco cleared her throat again and spoke with the tone of someone who believed the whole world was listening. ‘And when the kids needed someone most, someone to love and trust, they found one another, and they called themselves the Kids of Appetite, and they lived and they laughed and they saw that it was good.'”
Recommended for: Fans of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom, and The Outsiders, which has a recurring and important presence in this book (definitely a must-read if you haven’t already read it!)
If you’ve read this, what did you think of it? Link your own Standalone Sunday in the comments!