A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological disorder characterized by facial weakness and paralysis, as well as its many symptoms and side effects. Readers will be exposed to the function of super racehorses; the opera Lakmé's most famous aria, "The Flower Duet"; as well as Matisse's many paintings, the tenets of abstract art, Battlestar Galactica, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Elliott Smith, and other historical, artistic, and literary themes, facts, ideas, and works, such as S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders.
There's beauty in asymmetry, in difference; friends can and should help one another; redemption is possible. The book also encourages teens to look beyond the surface, to read and experience art /music/movies deeply, and to be compassionate and empathetic with others, because everyone has a "story."
Positive Role Models
Baz is a caring big brother to many people. He helps others and has a strong code of ethics. Vic is intelligent, kind, and funny despite the constant looks and questions about his condition. Vic's father and Baz/Nzuzi's mother, although deceased, play an instrumental role in their thinking and missions.
Violence & Scariness
An abusive character is killed in self-defense. References to abuse and unspeakable genocide in Rwanda and Congo that leave characters orphans. Mad tells the story of the accident that killed her parents, and Vic often speaks of his dying father, the cancer that took him, and his grief. A man holds a character by the neck and nearly kills him.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few mentions of sex, desire, and "wanting," but only a couple of actual kisses in the story. A character recalls how affectionate his parents and grandparents were. Another character recalls witnessing a parent having an affair.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Regular but not frequent use of strong language (sometimes said by an 11-year-old character), includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "douche," "d--k," and the frequent use of "frak" (made popular in Battlestar Galactica) as a substitute swear word.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A major character regularly smokes cigarettes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kids of Appetite is the second New York Times-bestselling novel by author David Arnold (Mosquitoland).The story follows a group of five outsiders -- orphans and misfits -- who band together to help the main character scatter his father's ashes in various places throughout New Jersey and New York. There's occasional strong language, a few kisses, and references to domestic abuse, adultery, and more disturbing recollections of civil war and family deaths. The author has filled the book with references to real music, art, and books, as well as historical events, which should resonate with curious teen readers. An exploration of first love, the beauty of asymmetry, and the power of friendship, Kids of Appetite is a winning pick for book lovers who enjoy contemporary, realistic fiction.
Is It Any Good?
This substantive and emotional coming-of-age story is about love, friendship, and the beauty of being different. Arnold's second novel is as layered as an onion. As in one of Melina Marchetta's or Andrew Smith's stories, there's a whole lot about family relationships, the life-changing power of a beloved song, artist, book (in this case, "The Flower Duet," Matisse, and The Outsiders play major roles), and the never-ending process that is grief. Vic's Moebius may cause the paralysis of his face, but those lucky enough to see the "simmering underneath" know he's a brilliant, emotive guy who misses everything about his father -- even the things that used to annoy him. And Vic's grief is just one of many kinds explored. All of the five friends have gone through unspeakable losses.
There's a lot to unpack in the story, and young readers who prefer lighthearted romances will need to dig deeper to finish it. There are two points of view (Vic's and Mad's) but a large cast of characters, and the other Kids of Appetite have equally as compelling (and heartbreaking) stories -- as do the not-so-random others who help the KoA crew with their various missions. Twenty-seven-year-old Baz, the paternal leader of the group, and his 20-year-old silent brother, Nzuzi, who communicates by snapping his fingers, experienced enough violence and tragedy by age 3 (Baz) and 10 (Nzuzi) to last many lifetimes. Eleven-year-old Coco, their foster sister and unofficial ward, curses like a sailor and pulls no punches. She's from Queens, after all. And Mad and Vic's love story is one of extreme opposites who realize they're actually alike where it counts. Lovely and powerful, this book is best for readers who like nuanced relationship stories and who are up to the task of, like Vic, figuring out how to be a "super racehorse" in a world filled with "aspiring rental car entrepreneurs."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.