Friday, March 1, 2013

Peanut by Ayun Halliday, art by Paul Hoppe

Sadie is starting a new high school.  She's nervous about fitting in and making friends, so she does a strange thing.  She pretends to have a peanut allergy.  It starts innocently enough, but soon Sadie realizes it has spun far outside her control.  The only way out is to tell the truth, but what will it cost her?

I loved this.  A great story with an incredibly relatable character.  It might sound like what Sadie did was crazy, but really, it's not.  Probably almost everyone has done something like it, although not to the extreme Sadie took it.  You want people to notice you and like you, so you tell them something that maybe isn't completely true.  A fabulous trip you didn't actually take, a famous person you don't really know, the cool job your brother doesn't really have.  It's so easy, and now you're interesting and exciting.

For Sadie, it started simply enough.  After starting at her new school and feeling a bit out of place, she told some girls she had a severe peanut allergy.  It gave her something to talk about.  Something that set her apart and made her different.  She didn't think about the consequences, or what it really meant.  Soon she's getting called down to the nurse because she hadn't filled out allergy forms, being asked where her EpiPen is, and realizing that she can never invite her friends over to her house.  What if one of them mentioned her "allergy?"  What would her mom say?

Sadie realizes this was a bad idea, but her new friends are always so concerned for her and watch out for her.  She even has a boyfriend.  Everyone's being so sweet and thoughtful.  How can she confess she was lying?  How will she explain herself?  They'll hate her.

Sadie's grappling with a lie that gets out of control was realistic and relatable.  You know she's in the wrong, and yet, it's hard to not hope she figures out a way to fix things.  Of course, it all blows up in her face, and she has to face the consequences.  Which she does, and it's not easy.

I enjoyed the Paul Hope's art.  It's sketches, really, with some of the close-ups more detailed.  Despite the lack of detail most of the time, there was never any trouble figuring out characters thoughts of emotions.  It was always completely clear.  The illustrations are completely in black and white, except for Sadie.  Sadie is always wearing a red top of some kind.  Was this some kind of scarlet letter thing?  Just to set her apart?  It was striking, whatever the reason was.  I liked the layout a lot, made up of irregular panels overlapping with larger pictures.  It was very easy to follow, and broke out of the boring straight panel mold.

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