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Kids of Appetite
Cover of Kids of Appetite
Kids of Appetite
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The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss. Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story...
The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss. Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story...
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  • The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this 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.

    Cast of Narrators:
    "Vic" read by Michael Crouch
    "Mad" read by Phoebe Strole
    "Baz" read by Ryan Vincent Anderson

    *Bonus PDF Includes a Cast of Characters List


  • From the cover 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.”


About the Author-

  • David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland, and his books have been translated into over a dozen languages. Previous jobs include freelance musician/producer, stay-at-home dad, and preschool teacher. David is a fierce believer in the power of kindness and community. And pesto. He believes fiercely in pesto.
    You can learn more at davidarnoldbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @roofbeam.


  • 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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Michael Crouch's portrayal shows the many facets of 16-year-old Vic's sorrow. Vic's father's death and his mother's new relationship leave him feeling alone in coping with his Mobeius syndrome, which paralyzes his face. Miserable Vic runs away with his father's urn and meets Mad and three other homeless kids who are cared for by Baz, a kindly Congolese young woman. Phoebe Strole captures Mad's strident tones and, gradually, the hidden vulnerability she bears from an abusive home. As Mad's harshness turns to warmth, Vic's hope of love is realized. Interspersed in their alternating chapters are Ryan Vincent Anderson's accented comments as Baz. Anderson's deep, sonorous voice reflects Baz's experiences and contrasts with the youthful timbres of Vic and Madeline. S.W. � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 27, 2017
    When grieving teenager Vic flees his home to disperse his father’s ashes, he finds solace with a motley crew of semihomeless teens led by Baz, a Congolese refugee who is being accused of a New Jersey murder, and falls in love with Mad, an intrepid bookworm. Stage actor Strole captures Mad’s biting wit, and Crouch nails Vic’s wistful optimism. (Crouch also gamely tries his best with a sequence that likely worked well in print but is almost unbearably awkward for the listener, in which Vic recites his mantra one hundred times in rapid succession. Points to Crouch for his attempts to vary the delivery.) Where the audiobook falls short is in failing to utilize the talents of Anderson, an experienced audiobook performer who is woefully overlooked here as Baz, mostly serving as a scene-setter at the start of each chapter while Strole and Crouch coarsely attempt to read Baz’s dialogue in their respective sections of the story. A Viking hardcover. Ages 14–up.

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