Friday, January 4, 2013

Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

Sadie is starting her sophomore year at a new school - again. Her old friends have all been left behind and, as one of them tells her, it's a chance to reinvent herself.

So she invents a self with a peanut allergy.

At first, it works out well. She has friends (though she's not super popular, but then she never was) and people are interested in her. It's something to talk about, a way to break the ice. But then it starts getting more and more complicated and she has to tell more and more lies until finally the whole story implodes and she's worse off than when she started. However, there's hope for the future and Sadie has certainly learned some lessons about friendship and being honest in how who you are.

The art is simple navy and black lines, with just Sadie's red shirt as a focal point of color. It's sketchy, but not casual and the reader moves quickly from panel to panel, following the characters' emotions and behavior.

When I first read the description of this book it sounded gimmicky, but it really isn't at all. It's not about what it's like to be different or have a disability. Sadie notices how people treat her from the morbidly curious to the offensively cliquish, but it doesn't really impact her. There's an underlying current of figuring out who you are and how to connect to people and be honest, but ultimately it's really just a good school story. The embarrassment, the friendships, and trying to find a place to fit in the world.

Verdict: This is perfect for the kids who devoured Raina Telgemeier's Smile and Drama and want something a little more mature. It reminded me a lot of Page by Paige, which I adored. It's appropriate, content-wise, for the middle school and younger crowd, but the themes of relationships and trying to figure out who you are will resonate most strongly with young teens. Strongly recommended. [an eagle-eyed reader pointed out a brief reference to masturbation that I'd missed, so I'd amend this to middle school, at least for a public library. Schools - better stick to high school]

ISBN: 9780375865909; Published December 2012 by Schwartz & Wade/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher; Added to the library


Stephanie said...

Hi! I follow your contributions to NoFlyingNoTights. So I linked to your review. I also liked this book a lot, but thought I should point out that you might have missed. It was something that I thought made the whole book inappropriate for 6th graders (in a school library setting). In one part Sadie friends are talking and they refer to choking masturbation. (see page 124) I wouldn't want to be responsible for having introduced that concept to the student body. Hope that is helpful.

Jennifer said...

Hmm, I think I DID miss that - and you're right, that would make it more high school. I do take older books to my 6th grade booktalks sometimes b/c kids are at a lot of different levels, (witness the number of middle schoolers I have kicked out for PDAs in the library) but I usually give warnings "this has more mature things in it" or something along those lines. It is being cataloged in our teen, not juvenile collection of course.