by Allen Zadoff
Young Adult, 320 pages.
Egmont USA (2009)
Andrew Zansky can’t stand the label on his Levi’s jeans because it exposes his 48 waist size for the world to see. At the beginning of his sophomore year in high school, Andy can’t help feeling like something needs to change. He wants more (and not just lasagna) from his life. When an opportunity to play varsity football comes along, he can’t believe his luck. But will his new identity among the jocks change more than his size-48 outside?
Debut YA novelist Allen Zadoff wrestled with some very conventional high school tropes — loser makes his way through the popularity ranks, the unattainable girl starts paying attention — and came up with a hilarious, completely unique voice to carry this familiar story in a new way. Zadoff, who has made no secret of his own struggles with weight (he is the author of HUNGRY, an adult memoir) gives us an unforgettable character in Andy, and a great title for Egmont USA’s inaugural list!
For Readers: FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN’T HAVE has been getting lots of great press recently because it gives center stage to a complicated, funny and completely relatable plus-size character who is — drum roll please — a dude. And the book portrays the problems that a larger kid faces in an honest, sarcastic and ultimately triumphant way. Even though it’s always good to see body diversity in books, readers of every shape will flock to Andy because his insecurities and quirks are unique yet universal. Plus… it’s a hilarious read that actually had me slapping my knee. It hits shelves on September 8th, so pick up a copy at your local indie!
For Writers: As if writers don’t already have a lot to consider when crafting a character! Well, I’m here to add another ingredient to the mix: physicality. Andy’s physicality is central to FOOD, GIRLS because his is, partly, anyway, a story about being a fat kid. However, every character has a body and, unless you’re writing paranormal, they’re usually tethered to that body and aware of it 24/7. When crafting a person out of thin air, when creating a character who, by definition, doesn’t exist, it’s easy to forget that they’re supposed to be meat and bone, complete with all the various aches, pains, embarrassments, rumbles, heft and weight that flesh entails. Read FOOD, GIRLS and see how grounded Andy is in his particular mass. Then see if you can’t add a similar sense of physical reality to your character’s life.