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The Thing About Leftovers Paperback – July 4, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Fizzy has endured a fair amount of change in her life since her parents' divorce. After moving to a new town, she realizes that she has no friends, does not wear the right clothes, doesn't bring the right type of lunch, and doesn't live in the right type of house. Fizzy's chronically late to school, thanks mostly to her mother's tendency to "run late." She hates math and gym, and the teachers of both those classes seem to hate her. Fizzy feels like she doesn't fit in anywhere—not at school, not at home with her mom, not with her mom's new boyfriend, and not at her father's home, where her new stepmother makes everything seem perfect. She feels like a leftover and wonders if winning the Southern Living cook-off might make her parents appreciate her. Though her parents try hard to remain civil with each other and involved in her life, they are each caught up in starting anew, leaving Fizzy feeling adrift. Luckily, she has her cooking, her Aunt Liz to keep her spirits up, and two new friends, Miyoko and Zach, who seem to understand her and appreciate her humor. Fizzy's first-person narration is by turns hilarious and poignant as she struggles to find her voice. VERDICT While there are no tragic issues, the subjects of divorce and middle school drama are well handled. Tween readers will appreciate this gentle read as they empathize with Fizzy's feelings of inadequacy and root for her success.—Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Praise for The Thing About Leftovers:
“Fizzy’s first-person narration is by turns hilarious and poignant as she struggles to find her voice . . . The subjects of divorce and middle school drama are well handled. Tween readers will appreciate this gentle read as they empathize with Fizzy’s feelings of inadequacy and root for her success.”—School Library Journal
“Payne provides plenty of realistic detail here about Fizzy's slowly evolving relationships with her parents, stepparents, and new friends . . . Her growth feels authentic and her progress well-earned. Readers experiencing family challenges of their own will laugh and cry with Fizzy, rejoicing as she cooks up quite the satisfying new life for herself.”—Kirkus Reviews
"The Thing About Leftovers is a fun read about a serious topic . . . Children of blended families will relate to Fizzy’s thoughts and emotions. A thought-provoking read for parents and children alike."--VOYA
“With some really solid emotional insights and an energetic, engaging style, this will enlighten middle-school readers trying to sort through the complexities of family situations they didn’t ask for but need grace to deal with nonetheless.”—BCCB
“Hauntingly accurate portrayal of a young girl’s turmoil after her parents’ divorce . . . As they begin new families and new relationships, Fizzy feels frazzled, alone, and aching for the past . . . Payne’s characters give such interesting perspectives from ‘leftover kids’ that it may inspire some readers to reinspect their own relationships. The plot and characters are bluntly realistic, and Fizzy’s story should resonate with those looking for their place in a newly blended family.”—Booklist
Top customer reviews
There is no doubt that Payne is a masterful storyteller. She's very clever, too! She weaves characters and situations into a plot that is captivating in its own right. But it is the way she brings her characters to life that makes her one of the best. Even days after reading Leftovers, I'm still thinking of Fizzy and her friends. That's the mark of a great book.
Payne has an ear and eye for the life of a tween, and it's obvious in her writing that she has an affection (and respect!) for that age as well. There are no cliches in her approach to her characters. They speak, behave and react in genuine ways. The best thing that can be said of Fizzy and the gang is that they are REAL. Most of the conversations between Fizzy and her parents, and with her friends, are familiar to any parent who has journeyed with his/her children through that age.
Leftovers is a heartwarming, and occasionally heart-rending, story about a girl trying to figure out her place in a world that has gone topsy-turvy. Make no mistake!! Leftovers is not just about a tween in the middle of divorce and re-marriages. It is a wonderful reminder to all of us when we feel lost in a sea of change: we will find our way.
One of the reasons I have come to love this author is her characterizations, and I think this to be her best work yet in that regard. Fizzy, the protagonist, is so well-drawn she feels like family. You can't help but laugh with her and likewise, at turns, cry. The other family figures are also interesting and so believable, and her quirky new friends are fabulous! Our local public library is sponsoring two contests in conjunction with the progtagonist's endeavor to win the Southern Living cook-off: an edible book contest for our local schools and and a left-overs recipe contest for the public. They hope to have local chefs judge the food created for the left-overs recipe portion of the competition and local celebrities to judge the edible books. Very exciting! An edible book contest might be great fun with a book club. This author is willing to Skype with groups to make a more affordable option available, and another one of the reasons she has ascended to the top of the mountain for me is because of my encounters with her in those author visit sessions. She is simply the best author visit our school has ever had --- hands down, the BEST! If interested, her contact information is available on her website.
In a landscape covered with blended families, be it your own or all those folks you know, this is your middle-grade reader's MUST READ. Thought-provoking enough for grown-ups to read for insight and discussion starters with their tweens.
Although I came from an "in tact" family, or whatever the PC word is now, this explores the feelings of a child as they face two homes and replacement family members. I believe it does the best job of any book I've seen at capturing what it must feel like for the kid and for the parents.
The voice is absolutely perfect and it's a book I will recommend for a very long time. The main character is lovable and is a great role model for finding your passion, even in difficult times.
I read an uncorrected copy provided by the dear Nancy Paulsen, but that doesn't have an effect on my rating or praise. It's a phenomenal read.
"But know this: As long as he's being tough on you, he believes in you. It's when a teacher stops being tough on you, stops pushing you, that you should worry--because that's when they've given up on you." . . . Never truer words spoken. I say this often