Monday, January 7, 2013

Peanut by Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe

Sadie has left all of her friends behind and moved to a new town and school. At a new school, she knows that she can reinvent herself if she wants and become a new person. She does just that -- by inventing an allergy to peanuts. She goes so far as the order a medical alert bracelet off the Internet to add realism to her charade. She makes new friends and even finds a boyfriend, who all believe her story. As with all lies, this one grows bigger and bigger until it causes rifts in her relationship with her mother and her friends. When she eats a muffin suspected of containing peanuts, chaos erupts and her deception is uncovered.

The story would be perfect for a middle grade, but several events make me hesitant to recommend it for that age group. I don't think upper middle school or high school students would find the story as appealing as fifth through seventh graders. I wish the mentions of her friend's intimacy with her boyfriend had been left out. It didn't have anything really to do with the story and would be a reason not to highly recommend to fifth graders to read. I think the scariness of moving to a new place and having to make new friends is a very real fear and I'm sure many wonder if they should take the opportunity to remake themselves. This cautionary tale allows the reader to imagine what could happen if one were to undertake such an elaborate hoax.

I did enjoy the graphic format and its illustrations. Loved how Sadie was featured in her red top, while other characters were monotone. It sure allowed the reader to focus on the main character and then take a second look to see what might be in the background.

As I said before I really think this story would appeal to middle school students who fear starting over in a new place and making new friends. There's a lot to like here and would be another book to give to fans of Raina Telgemeier's SMILE. C+ Rating.

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