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Cover image for Kids of appetite
Kids of appetite
New York, New York : Viking, [2016]
Physical Description:
335 pages ; 22 cm
Teens Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco sit in separate police interrogation rooms telling about the misfits who brought them together and their journey sparked by a message in an urn.
Reading Level:
Young Adult.

760 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 5.2.

Reading Counts! 5.6.
Geographic Term:


Call Number
TEEN Arnold, D.

On Order



"A gorgeous, insightful, big-hearted joy of a book." -- Nicola Yoon , #1  New York Times  bestselling author of  Everything, Everything  

The critically acclaimed author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this New York Times bestselling tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss. 

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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-A varied group of homeless and runaway teens fill this story with heart and character. Vic is grieving the loss of his father, attempting to scatter his ashes as he wished, and running away from his mom's new boyfriend and the changes that relationship is forcing into his life. Mad, Baz, Zuze, and Koko have escaped from their own distressing situations and are helping one another survive. They take Vic under their wing and set out to help him scatter his dad's ashes. When Mad's violent and abusive uncle is murdered, the story unfolds as the police interview these resilient youngsters to find out what happened. Listeners don't need to be familiar with the Hackensack, NJ, setting, but it will be great fun for those who are. This is an engaging, touching story with characters who ring true and with whom young adults will easily identify. VERDICT Recommended for fans of realistic fiction, romance, and family and friendship stories.-Cynthia Ortiz, Hackensack High School Library, NJ © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

When grieving teenager Vic flees his home to disperse his father's ashes, he finds solace with a motley crew of semihomeless teens led by Baz, a Congolese refugee who is being accused of a New Jersey murder, and falls in love with Mad, an intrepid bookworm. Stage actor Strole captures Mad's biting wit, and Crouch nails Vic's wistful optimism. (Crouch also gamely tries his best with a sequence that likely worked well in print but is almost unbearably awkward for the listener, in which Vic recites his mantra one hundred times in rapid succession. Points to Crouch for his attempts to vary the delivery.) Where the audiobook falls short is in failing to utilize the talents of Anderson, an experienced audiobook performer who is woefully overlooked here as Baz, mostly serving as a scene-setter at the start of each chapter while Strole and Crouch coarsely attempt to read Baz's dialogue in their respective sections of the story. A Viking hardcover. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In a Hackensack police interrogation room, sixteen-year-old Bruno Victor Benucci III is being interviewed as a witness to a murder. We learn, via Vics first-person narration including flashbacks, about his rare neurological disorder, Moebius syndrome, which causes facial paralysis; about his grief over his deceased father; and about his heart-thinker personality, which makes his inability to conventionally express emotions feel more devastating. In a separate interrogation room is second narrator Madeline (Mad) Falco, a headstrong, almost-eighteen-year-old orphan whose abusive uncle was the murder victim. Mad runs with a crew that includes Congolese-refugee brothers Baz, a fatherly twenty-seven-year-old who turned himself in for the murder, and twenty-year-old Zuz, who is selectively mute; and eleven-year-old Coco, a connoisseur of sass, rap, and faux cussing (What the motherfrakking frak?). Early in Vics tale, the quartet welcomes him in with open arms after he runs away from his mother and her despised new fianc with his fathers urn, looking to scatter Dads ashes per his instructions -- a mission that lends structure to much of his story. Arnolds (Mosquitoland, rev. 3/15) prose is sharp and observant, his pacing restrained, revealing each characters backstory gradually while also setting up a murder investigation that keeps readers guessing until the second it doesnt. 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. katrina hedeen (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Following his acclaimed debut, Mosquitoland (2015), Arnold offers a heartfelt tale that entwines ferocity with quirk, loss with first love, and beauty with asymmetry. Told almost exclusively through flashbacks, the book begins inside the Hackensack Police Department, where teens Vic and Madeline (Mad) are being individually questioned about a murder. The story, however, begins eight days before, when Vic is taken in by the ragtag Kids of Appetite (KOA), who help Vic in his quest to scatter his beloved father's ashes. Vic who has Moebius syndrome gains a sense of belonging within this diverse and unusual group, but it is Mad who truly captures his attention. Arnold alternates between Vic's and Mad's perspectives as they recall the days leading to their interrogation. Bloodthirsty readers drawn to the murder element, be warned. This novel is for heart-thinkers. Darkness and complexity swirl beneath the surface, as each KOA member copes with personal traumas. At times it feels like Arnold has too many balls in the air, but philosophical teens drawn to themes of belonging will revel in his latest.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

Arnold's funny and touching second novel (after "Mosquitoland") 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." Sixteen-year-old Bruno Victor Benucci III's father died two years ago, and he misses him - a lot. His dad taught Vic about Matisse and helped him feel better about having Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological disease that causes facial paralysis. When Vic's mom's dopey boyfriend, Frank, proposes, Vic runs away from home, carrying only his father's ashes and his grief out into a New Jersey winter night. He meets Madeline, almost 18, who shows him a warm place to sleep, along with Coco, an 11-year-old with the vocabulary of a truck driver, and Zuz, who does not speak. Baz, who becomes the leader of this band of misfits, asks Vic only two questions before offering him a place to stay: "Do you need help?" and "Did you hurt anyone?" The story effortlessly switches between Vic and Mad, the past and the present. In the present, Vic and Mad are being questioned by the Hackensack Police Department. We won't know why until the novel's end. Arnold has a talent for stringing words together in just the right, jumbled order. His sentences are arrows. When Vic tells the sergeant interviewing him, "I've always wanted to be strong, Miss Mendes. I just wish there wasn't so much fire," it feels as if gravity has doubled down on your chest. But as Vic realizes, it's much easier to face the flames when you know others are standing with you.