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Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have Hardcover – September 8, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8–10—Andy, an overweight high school sophomore, is bullied by his peers, overprotected by his mother, and ignored by his type-A, absent father. As the school year begins, his friend Eytan has plans for the pair to shine as representatives of Estonia at the model UN meetings, but Andy has his eye on new girl April. When he is recruited as center for the football team, everything changes. For the first time, he experiences parties, girls—including April—and popularity. Initially bogged down by the teen's self-deprecating comments and jokes, the plot begins to develop as Andy describes his new experiences with humor and wit. He is realistic as he shovels food into his mouth to assuage pain and embarrassment, struggles to maintain his friendship with Eytan after abandoning Estonia, and allows himself to be manipulated by teammates. But the author does not lead Andy down the expected path. When forced to make a decision, his choice is unique and the conclusion satisfying. Although these characters lack the intensity of Eric and Sarah in Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes (HarperCollins, 1993), many readers will relate to Andy, his desire to be popular, and his insecurities. The possibly offensive locker room language is typical and lends credibility. More importantly, Andy's character is thoughtful and refreshing.—Sue Lloyd, Franklin High School, Livonia, MI END
About the Author
Allen Zadoff was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and went on to live in upstate New York, Manhattan, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. A former stage director, he is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theater Training. His memoir for adults is called Hungry: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin. He currently teaches writing in Los Angeles. Visit Allen at www.allenzadoff.com.
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Top customer reviews
I'm not fat, a teenager, male, or a football fan, but I loved this book. The main character is three-dimensional, as are many of the secondary characters. There's also a lot of great humor and a plot twist I didn't see coming.
My thirteen-year-old son, who's a football fan and a very picky reader, also really enjoyed this book.
Zadoff also movingly shows how Andy's parents' very recent divorce, along with his mom's overprotectiveness and his dad's seeming disinterest, propel him to make some of the choices he does. This isn't sappy or cutesy, but rather a humorous, moving look at the lengths one teenager is willing to go to feel like he fits in. I raced through it and imagine teens will appreciate Andy's offbeat sense of humor, and that he certainly isn't perfect when it comes to treating his peers well, even though he's felt the brunt of being unpopular.
I loved the voice of Andy he was sweet and funny and the progression of events was believable. The chapters are short which helps make this book into a fast read and each starts with a funny lead in title. Although I am not usually a fan of chapter titles as they can reveal things to come that haven't been reveled yet. This was a fun story and there is a little something in it for everyone. There is dealing with bully issues, romance, struggling to overcome the odds and even a little of chasing the dream. There is a little bit of Andy inside everyone and I think that he'll endear himself to everyone who reads his story. This is a wonderful coming of age story and I loved watching as Andy learned from the choices he made - both good and bad. This is a quick read because it sucks you in...I read the book in one sitting, which rarely happens these days. So if you have a quiet afternoon then you might want to spend it getting to know Andy a little better.
Since I have encountered over 300 book reviews on the Internet, on this title, I will limit my comments to just the things I enjoyed about this book and why I would recommend it to other youth/young adult library staff plus high school students:
1.Tender humor on a timely character. Andrew's, first person narrative, obese self-conscious sophomore in high school, of a divorced family household. Enough said. Totally relate-able to teen audience.
2.Lots of great memorable quotes:
"Nancy is oblivious. A girl who has the body mass of a Twinkie can't imagine not fitting into a chair" (p. 26.)
"Now Jessica knows a cheerleader. I am going to own the TiVo for the rest of my life" (p.193)
3.My favorite "scene" in the book: Andrew kicking the soccer ball, knocking over other students like bowling pins and then flying into the goal (pp. 49 - 52).
4.Screen writing opinion. Not sure if there are any book-to-movie offers in the works, but I would like to see this at the box office soon. Please consider the actor James Franco for the role of "O." It feels like the book's character mirrors his many of his memorable onscreen personas.
Looking forward to reading Mr. Zadoff's other books.
Reviewed links 2/17/10.