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Kids of Appetite
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Kids of Appetite
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"A gorgeous, insightful, big-hearted joy of a book." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything The critically acclaimed author of...
"A gorgeous, insightful, big-hearted joy of a book." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything The critically acclaimed author of...
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  • "A gorgeous, insightful, big-hearted joy of a book." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything 

    The critically acclaimed author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this New York Times bestselling tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss. 

    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.


  • From the book Chapter 1
    The Momentous Multitudes
    (or, Gird Thy Silly, Futile Selves)
    Interrogation Room #3
    Bruno Victor Benucci III & Sergeant S. Mendes
    December 19 // 3:12 p.m.

    Consider this: billions of people in the world, each with billions of I ams. I am a quiet observer, a champion wallflower. I am a lover of art, the Mets, the memory of Dad. I represent approximately one seven-billionth of the population; these are my momentous multitudes, and that’s just for starters.

    “It begins with my friends.”

    “What does?”

    “My story,” I say.

    Only that’s not quite right. I have to go back further than that, before we were friends, back when it was just . . .

    . . .

    Okay, got it.

    “I’ve fallen in love something like a thousand times.”

    Mendes smiles a little, nudges the digital recorder closer. “I’m sorry—you said . . . you’ve fallen in love?”

    “A thousand times,” I say, running both hands through my hair.

    I used to think love was bound by numbers: first kisses, second dances, infinite heartbreaks. I used to think numbers outlasted the love itself, surviving in the dark corners of the demolished heart. I used to think love was heavy and hard.

    I don’t think those things anymore.

    “I am a Super Racehorse.”

    “You’re a what?” asks Mendes, her eyes at once tough and tired.

    “Nothing. Where’s your uniform?”

    She wears a tweed skirt with a fitted jacket and flowy blouse. I quietly observe her brown eyes, very intense, and—were it not for the baggy pillows, and the crow’s feet framing her features like facial parentheses—quite pretty. I quietly observe the slight creases on her hands and neck, indicative of premature aging. I quietly observe the absence of a wedding ring. I quietly observe her dark hair, shoulder-length with just a lingering shadow of shape and style.

    Parenthetical, slight, absence, lingering: the momentous multitudes of Mendes, it seems, are found in the hushed footnote.

    “Technically, I’m off duty,” she says. “Plus, I’m a sergeant, so I don’t always have to wear a uniform.”

    “So you’re the one in charge, right?”

    “I report to Lieutenant Bell, but this is my case if that’s what you’re asking.”

    I reach under my chair, pull my Visine out of the front pocket of my backpack, and apply a quick drop in each eye.

    “Victor, you’ve been missing eight days. Then this morning you and”—she shuffles through papers until finding the one she’s looking for—“Madeline Falco march in here, practically holding hands with Mbemba Bahizire Kabongo, aka Baz, the primary suspect in our murder investigation.”

    “I wasn’t holding hands with Baz. And he’s no murderer.”

    “You don’t think so?”

    “I know so.”

    Mendes gives me a pity-smile, the kind of smile that frowns. “He just turned himself in, Vic. That, plus his DNA is on the murder weapon. We have more than enough to put Kabongo behind bars for a very long time. What I’m hoping you might shed some light on is how you go from running out the front door of your own home eight days ago, to walking in here this morning. You said you have a story to tell. So tell it.”



  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 13, 2016
    Arnold (Mosquitoland) again showcases a memorable cast of outsiders carving out space for themselves. Bruno Victor “Vic” Benucci III, a 16-year-old Jersey kid born with a rare condition that leaves him unable to use most of his facial muscles, is reeling from his father’s death two years earlier. After his mother’s new boyfriend proposes to her, Vic bolts from the house with his father’s ashes. Vic’s destiny is changed when he meets 17-year-old Madeline “Mad” Falco, who is part of a gang of semihomeless kids who vow to help Vic decipher his father’s final note, which dictates various places to spread his ashes. Told through Vic and Mad’s alternating narratives, interspersed with police interviews centered around the murder of Mad’s abusive uncle, the story focuses on the unbreakable bonds of these forgotten, mistreated kids—who include two brothers born in the Congo and a brilliant, sharp-tongued 11-year-old—as well as Vic’s enduring loyalty to his father’s memory. Arnold writes with a Hinton-esque depth and rawness, building Mad and Vic’s stories with practiced patience. Ages 14–up. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2016
    In Hackensack, New Jersey, a teen grieving the death of his father flees home, urn containing his dad's ashes in hand, and stumbles upon the best friends of his life. Sixteen-year-old Vic Bennuci's late father left him with an appreciation for asymmetry, which both informs his love of abstract art and helps him cope with the often cruel ways the world reacts to his face: the white boy has Moebius syndrome and can't smile or blink. Readers are introduced to him and this gripping novel's other narrator--quiet, tough, blonde, white Mad, a lover of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, whose home life is a nightmare of abuse--as they're being separately interviewed by the police about their friend Baz, who is accused of murder. Baz and his brother, Nzuzi, are Congolese refugees who lived in foster care in the United States following the deaths of the rest of their family, and they, along with foulmouthed white, 11-year-old Coco, round out this intelligent and funny group. Vic and Mad are beautifully realized characters. The others are not as fully developed but are deeply sympathetic nonetheless. Their coalescence into an informal found family is both natural and believable. This tale of kids dealing with horrific situations is at times almost fantastical in its romanticism and is realized through the employ of spot-on pacing and lovely wordsmithing. Sophisticated teen readers will love this. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2016

    Gr 8 Up-Victor has an urn with his father's ashes and a set of instructions for scattering them. Madeline has a scar and a troubled past. When the two collide, or "bump," as Victor puts it, Victor joins the Kids of Appetite, a ragtag group that Madeline belongs to. As the gang helps Victor complete his dad's last mission, he begins to fall for Madeline. Meanwhile, one of the KoA comes under suspicion for murder, and Madeline and Victor are swept up in the investigation. Set against the vivid backdrop of Hackensack, NJ, this literary novel will satisfy teens looking for a quirky read. However, sometimes the quirk goes into overdrive and the details overwhelm the plot, which can feel thin in comparison. The KoA are a motley crew, and each member is fairly well drawn, with the exception of one African character, who communicates solely through finger snaps, which is a troubling detail. The writing is lush and lovely, but those seeking a fast-paced or compelling plot should look elsewhere. VERDICT An additional purchase for YA library collections.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2016
    Grades 9-12 Following his acclaimed debut, Mosquitoland (2015), Arnold offers a heartfelt tale that entwines ferocity with quirk, loss with first love, and beauty with asymmetry. Told almost exclusively through flashbacks, the book begins inside the Hackensack Police Department, where teens Vic and Madeline ( Mad ) are being individually questioned about a murder. The story, however, begins eight days before, when Vic is taken in by the ragtag Kids of Appetite (KOA), who help Vic in his quest to scatter his beloved father's ashes. Vicwho has Moebius syndromegains a sense of belonging within this diverse and unusual group, but it is Mad who truly captures his attention. Arnold alternates between Vic's and Mad's perspectives as they recall the days leading to their interrogation. Bloodthirsty readers drawn to the murder element, be warned. This novel is for heart-thinkers. Darkness and complexity swirl beneath the surface, as each KOA member copes with personal traumas. At times it feels like Arnold has too many balls in the air, but philosophical teens drawn to themes of belonging will revel in his latest.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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