Charitha Lakkireddy, an eighth grader from Kansas, recommends Kids of Appetite, by David Arnold.
Vic Benucci, a sixteen year old living in a small New Jersey town, has been dealt his fair share of misfortune. He was diagnosed with Moebius syndrome, an uncommon neurological case that renders him very limited control of his facial muscles, at a young age. This bump was mildly tolerable, when he had his dad, who gave him his appreciation for art and asymmetry. But the universe is out to get Vic and, therefore, nothing good can last. After his father’s passing, Vic had no one. Sure, his mom was still around. But she comes as a package deal; it’s either her, her new lawyer boyfriend, and his kids, or it’s no one. Vic wasn’t happy, to say the least. And maybe that unhappiness is what convinces him that it’s a good idea to run away from home with nothing but his dad’s ashes and the desire to spread them all across town, just like his dad had wanted. The unhappiness and the ring his mom’s boyfriend was grasping between his index finger and thumb was probably what did it.
The spontaneous getaway probably isn’t a total loss, though, considering that’s how he met Baz, Nzuzi, Coco, and Mad. That’s how Vic met the Kids of Appetite and became one of them. The time spent with them is nothing but trouble and mischief, something that Vic hasn’t had a whole lot of in his life. Vic passes his days with these kids, as they help him complete his dad’s final wish, and as he learns their stories, he finds himself wanting to write his own with them. But because this is Vic’s life, and he feels that nothing good for him can last, it comes to an unfortunate twist.
What started out as an impromptu trip to get out of the house and complete his father’s dying wish, gets him put in a backroom of the Hackensack Police Department as a detective tries to convince him to spill the story of the past few days, on account of a theory, fueled by the cops, that one of the Kids of Appetite is responsible for a murder. Vic never had it easy, and he surely doesn’t now.
I loved the Kids of Appetite because it is a young adult novel that tackles topics its targeted audience, young adults, actually deal with. From the process of making friends, to not letting our differences define us, to learning how to cope with loss, there isn’t a topic that this book skips over. Although, I haven’t experienced anything near as traumatic as Vic or any of the other kids, I can still read over a line in the book and think to myself about how many times I’ve felt the same way. There’s only 352 pages in the book, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind when I say that you’ll find yourself falling in love with David Arnold’s writing style and these wonderful characters that he’s created within the first few chapters. As the book drew to a close, I could feel myself saddening. These people, the Kids of Appetite, that I’d spent the past few hours reading about, were characters that I could never grow tired of.
Kids of Appetite is a one-of-a-kind novel with a plot that I strongly doubt can be found in any other book of the same YA genre. It’s a beautiful story that makes you stop and think. Books that make us think, as much as it pains me to say this, have become somewhat of a rarity amongst new young adult writers. I believe that Arnold crafts a tale that fits the definition for perfect, and I hope you’ll be saying the same thing after reading this novel.