Sixteen-year-old Vic Benucci suffers from a condition called Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes facial paralysis, which means he cannot blink, smile or frown. Bullied by his classmates and often assumed to be stupid by adults, he is actually witty and intelligent, a lover of art and opera, which becomes clear when he opens his mouth and speaks. What Vic's face cannot show, but he needs to say is that he still grieves for his father, dead more than two years ago from cancer, while his mother seems to have moved on with a boyfriend who loves canned green beans. He runs away on a quest to scatter his father's ashes, and bumps into a ragtag group of homeless kids and young adults who have named themselves Kids of Appetite: Baz and Nzuzi, brothers who survived a civil war in the Congo; Madeline (Mad), whose parents were killed in a car wreck; and Coco, 11 years old, a cussing Little Orphan Annie down to the red hair. They take Vic in, feed and shelter him, treat him with kindness, just because he asks for help. When the book begins, it is eight days since Vic left home, and he and Mad are being interviewed by the police as witnesses to a murder for which Baz is the prime suspect. As they recount the events of the previous week, it becomes clear that all the Kids of Appetite have sorrows to tell at least as great as Vic's. This is an amazing second novel by David Arnold-- a book about accepting loss, finding family, finding love, and discovering that we are all Chapters in each other's stories.
The New York Times bestseller from the critically acclaimed author of Mosquitoland
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.
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.
A New York Times Bestseller — A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016 — An Amazon Best Book of the Year 2016: Young Adult — A Junior Library Guild selection — An ABA Indies Choice Young Adult Honor book 2017 — Kids' Indie Next List "Top Ten" Pick (Autumn 2016) — A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2017 — A Southern Living Best Book of 2016 — A Bank Street CBC Best Book of the Year 2017
"Arnold’s funny and touching second novel is about many things: making peace with the past; the families we create; abstract painting; and what it means to be a 'genuine heart-thinker' . . . Arnold has a talent for stringing together words in just the right, jumbled order. His sentences are arrows." —The New York Times Book Review
"[In] David Arnold’s follow-up to last year’s wonderful Mosquitoland . . . Arnold continues to show mastery in crafting relatable teens struggling with dark circumstances . . . They’re a highly enjoyable bunch of outsiders.” —USA Today
"A gorgeous, insightful, big-hearted joy of a book. Kids of Appetite made me fall in love with the world a little bit more." —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything
"Kids of Appetite is one of the most honest, emotional, human books I have ever read. You will feel it. This one's a life-changer." —Becky Albertalli, Morris Award–winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
★ "Showcases a memorable cast of outsiders carving out space for themselves . . . Arnold writes with a Hinton-esque depth and rawness." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Luminous and deeply affecting . . . Beautifully written with compelling voices, evocative allusions and metaphors, and pithy aphorisms, this offers the sentimental cleansing (the kind that comes with tears) that books do best, admirably living up to Mad’s own favorite book, The Outsiders, in its path through tragedy to blessing." —BCCB, starred review
"Expert pacing . . . Arnold’s memorable characters feel real, and their story compels till the end." —Entertainment Weekly
"Spot-on pacing and lovely wordsmithing. Sophisticated teen readers will love this." —Kirkus Reviews
"Arnold's prose is sharp and observant, his pacing restrained, revealing each character’s backstory gradually while also setting up a murder investigation that keeps readers guessing until the second it doesn’t. Vic constantly refers to life revelations from his father, including the idea of “simultaneous extreme opposites”—a concept that, given all the laugh-cries to be had in his emotionally well-wrought novel, Arnold motherfrakking nails." —The Horn Book
"Arnold offers a heartfelt tale that entwines ferocity with quirk, loss with first love, and beauty with asymmetry . . . Philosophical teens drawn to themes of belonging will revel in his latest." —Booklist
"This literary novel will satisfy teens looking for a quirky read . . . The writing is lush and lovely." —School Library Journal
"A big-hearted book that will make you feel nostalgic for your teen years, Kids of Appetite will leave you cry-laughing until the very last page." —Brit + Co.
"Raw, honest, and incredibly affecting." —Bustle
"Passion, honesty and energy radiate off every page of this memorable book." —Justine magazine "Arnold gives the reader a complex plot that incorporates many of the complexities of life. The diverse group of characters substantiates the culmination of the plot and the police investigation. A great book." —VOYA
"With Kids of Appetite, [Arnold] brings the same intense emotion and stunning prose that made Mosquitoland such a perfect book, and takes on some bigger challenges." —Book Riot
“Equal parts S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and The Breakfast Club . . . Every line is purposeful, and Arnold’s sentence craftsmanship is perfection.” —Clarion-Ledger
“This book will leave you smiling from the inside out, in the best way possible.” —The Morning Call - Kids' Indie Next List "Top Ten" Pick (Autumn 2016) - A Junior Library Guild selection
Praise for David Arnold's Mosquitoland:
"Arnold proves his worth as a top-notch storyteller on his first literary go-round, which is reminiscent of Ferris Bueller's Day Off if done by John Hughes with Jack Kerouac. . . Mosquitoland stings in all the right places, which is why it will no doubt be many teenagers' new favorite book and win over the crustiest old-timer, too." —USA Today
"David Arnold combines brio with compassion in this captivating first novel, which holds surprises, big and small, right to the end. . . Illuminating" —The Washington Post
"David Arnold's sparkling, startling, laugh-out-loud debut. . . speaks to the sweetness of life, the courage of love and the blinkers that adolescents may need to remove to see what is truly around them." —Wall Street Journal
"It's a breath of fresh air when a novel like David Arnold's Mosquitoland bucks the usual classifications and stands defiantly alone. . . like any odyssey worth embarking on, what the heroine—and the reader—finds along the way is far more interesting than we ever could have expected.” —Entertainment Weekly
"One of the most talked about books of the year" —Teen Vogue
"In Mosquitoland, David Arnold has created one of the most unique narrative voices to show up in the world of young adult fiction. I don't remember life before Mim, and I don't want to. Mosquitoland is equal parts sharp, sad, and surreal. This book is genius, war paint and all." —John Corey Whaley, Printz-winning author of Where Things Come Back
“David Arnold’s writing is both heartfelt and hilarious. You will fall in love with Mim, even as her grand journey will keep you guessing. Mosquitoland reminds us that sometimes imperfect is just perfect.” —Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray
★ “Arnold pens a stunning debut, showcasing a cast of dynamic characters. . . Mesmerizing.” —Kirkus, starred review
★ “Wholly enjoyable. . . There is no shortage of humor in Mim’s musings, interspersed with tender scenes and a few heart-pounding surprises. Mim’s triumphant evolution is well worth the journey.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Arnold boldly tackles mental illness and despair, and sexual assault and sexual identity, without ever once losing the bigheartedness of the story. . . In the words of one of Mim's Greyhound seatmates, Mosquitoland has pizazz—lots and lots of it." —Booklist, starred review
★ "Arnold’s characters are captivating and believable. . . This is a very engaging and compelling story about individuals who succeed or fail to manage life’s challenges. An action-packed thriller with a touch of humor and romance." —School Library Connection, starred review
★ "Arnold skillfully sets up doubts in readers' minds about how reliable Mim's impressions are, even as her razor-sharp humor and intelligence make us want to believe her. David Arnold is a write to watch." —Shelf Awareness, starred review