Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Most of the time I look up at the sky pretending I’m somewhere else. I’m definitely not tangled up in a net in my underwear with forty-nine sophomores watching me. I’m not practically naked in front of the girl I want to impress most in the world." - Andrew Zansky

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have – Allen Zadoff

320 pages

Genre:  YA; Realistic Fiction; Sports

Summary:  Andrew Zansky, an overweight teenager who is sometimes bullied, but mostly ignored in the halls of his high school, wishes he could be someone else.  While he does enjoy spending time with a handful of friends, Andy tends to turn to food for comfort and has become a bit complacent with his lot in life.  All that begins to change, however, when he spots a beautiful girl named April at an event, blurts out that he’s a jock, and begins to wonder if he can really turn himself into another person.  Will Andy be able to change his life, or will everything blow up in his face?

Review:  Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have was a humorous, touching book, and while it was a solid 320 pages, I read through it quite quickly.

One of the things that Zadoff did best in this work was authentically capturing the teenage experience through his characters.  Andrew was an incredibly believable character who was full of insecurities, but through his streaks of self-deprecation, he was also able to keep his sense of humor alive.  He knew he wasn’t perfect, and was basically just your average kid trying to make his way through high school; the fact that he had flaws made him quite relatable.  O was another standout character in my mind, and much like the rest of the school, I really grew to like him as I got to know him more, which surprised me because I don’t often like archetype jock characters.  April was also rather compelling, and while I didn’t particularly like her, the insecurities that she exhibited also made her a believable character.  She desperately wanted to be popular and would sometimes put her own interests aside in her quest to be liked, which is probably something many teenage girls can relate to.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this book at first because it kind of spelled out everything about Andy on the first page, but I am extremely glad I stuck with it. The plot moved along quite quickly without any slow parts, and just when I thought things were finally going to get easier for Andy, they tended to take a turn for the worse.

If you’re looking for a quirky, fun, realistic read with an unexpected hero, definitely give Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have a try.

Rating:  3.5/5

Other Books by this Allen Zadoff:  My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies, Hungry:  Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin

Read-alikes:  The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things – Carolyn Macker, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison, The DUFF – Kody Klepplinger