Kids of Appetite – David Arnold
Let’s get some house keeping out of the way first, I need to thank the lovely people at Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of this and apologising profusely for not reading and reviewing this sooner, you see, I didn’t actually receive the book until I came back from Paris at which point I was half way through something else and then I ended up going over board on all the TV I had to catch up on and I didn’t finish this in my usual prompt manner. SORRY. Anyway, thanks for the book, I liked it and I will now get to the task at hand!
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.
Right, now we’re on track where do I even start with this?
You might remember I read Mosquitoland a little while ago, while I liked it and thought it was quirky and existentialist and all those fun things that I like, it did have a few things that niggled me, so I may have gone into this with my guard up but honestly, I had no reason to. This book was (like Mosquitoland) quirky and interesting, but it was also a beautiful, cleverly put together story of grief and forgiveness with the most interesting band of characters I have come across in a very long time.
What we have is a rag tag gang of sorts, Baz, the ring leader with a dark past, Zuz, his younger brother who manages to say so much by saying so little, Coco, she’s from Queens and she says what she thinks and then we have Mad and Vic. Vic the sentimental heart thinker who is pure gold and Mad, the girl running away from all her problems. These are the kids of appetite. Our story centres around Mad and Vic told in their words in increments interspersed by police interviews, the two of them are in custody for an awful thing that has happened to an awful man. The kids of appetite are somehow involved, Mad and Vic are the key witnesses and slowly, but surely, we learn their story, what happened, how and why.
I think part of the beauty of this book is the way its told, the story itself is a sombre one, these are not happy kids, they are not in a good place, they all have their own baggage that they drag around with them. Even though this is a story about grief and forgiveness, it is also about the overwhelming bonds of friendships and connections. It has its own language in a way, we have the heroes (the super race horses) we have the villains (the side ways hugs) and we have all those people that fall in between. I feel like, in a way, Kids of Appetite is like a more existential, serious version of Wayne’s World in that it creates its own pop culture. Honestly, I’ll be seriously surprised if phrases from this don’t end up in every day conversation. David Arnold has kind of out done himself with this one, however, I do think his narration errs on the side of pretentious at times and there are a couple of moments when he slips off the edge and I end up rolling my eyes like come on dude, don’t try to outdo John Green with the epiphanies and stuff here, just tell me about these kids and where they’re going. For some, the style might be a bit much, I certainly don’t know any teenagers that talk this way, but then, I am a language nerd, I love seeing words used in interesting, fun new ways, so I was instantly drawn into Vic’s way of seeing the world with his super race horses and his heart thinkers, I loved the pace at which Coco’s thoughts and speech bound from one subject to another, I loved Baz’s straight talking and the way he considered stories and writing, I loved Mad’s infatuation with the Outsiders and weirdly, I loved Zuz’s silence. It’s eloquant, but I fear, might be an acquired taste.
If you’re looking for a non linear story with some smart alec kids, an interesting bunch of characters, a heavy story line and a pinch of hope, then I urge you to give this a try, its wildly different from anything else I’ve read this year also I’ve really not explained this very well at all which I blame entirely on the book, its kind of hard to explain a story like this that has so many different layers running through it!