YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Food, Girls, & Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: 8 September 2009
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (4.5/5 stars)

What’s worse than being fat your freshman year?
Being fat your sophomore year.

Life used to be so simple for Andrew Zansky–hang with the Model UN guys, avoid gym class, and eat and eat and eat. He’s used to not fitting in: into his family, his sports-crazed school, or his size 48 pants.

But not anymore. Andrew just met April, the new girl at school and the instant love of his life! He wants to find a way to win her over, but how? When O. Douglas, the heartthrob quarterback and high-school legend, saves him from getting beaten up by the school bully, Andrew sees his chance to get in with the football squad.
Is it possible to reinvent yourself in the middle of high school? Andrew is willing to try. But he’s going to have to make some changes. Fast. Can a funny fat kid be friends with a football superstar? Can he win over the Girl of his Dreams? Can he find a way to get his mom and dad back together?

How far should you go to be the person you really want to be?

Andrew is about to find out.

Review: This book surprised me a lot. With it’s creative title, I was not exactly sure what to expect. But I can tell you now that there was never a dull moment in this novel with its abundance of humor, interesting characters, and the engaging plot! The first chapter immediately captures the reader’s attention with Andy’s funny insights. I shall put some funny quotes at the end of the review so that you can laugh so hard that you will run and get your copy ASAP. Zadoff has a real talent in making jokes and incorporating them into the story. What a fantastic job!

The characters were all three-dimensional and Andy, the protagonist, was realistically portrayed. Reading this book put a smile on my face as it was full of laugh-out-loud moments, but not only that, this novel was so addictive that once I started reading, I could not put it down until I was done. In this wonderful story, Zadoff covers issues such as bullying, peer pressure, insecurities, family problems and cheesy crushes. It is a perfect blend of everything. Yes, even the secondary characters each had their own problems and insecurities. I cannot stress enough that this book was absolutely wonderful. My only problem with it was that it was slightly predictable, but it was alright, the excellent characters and writing made up for it.

Food, Girls, & Other Things I Can’t Have was a humorous, sweet, and heartwarming story that should win the award for “Funniest YA Book of 2009”. It is a coming of age novel and discovering who you are inside and ultimately accepting yourself for who you are. Fans of My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter would certainly love this book. Very highly recommended.

Speaking of shirts, I sometimes wear two– my regular shirt and a T-shirt underneath — just in case I’m hit by a car on the way to school. If the paramedics have to cut off my shirt to save my life, there will be another shirt underneath. It’s bad enough to be hit by a car. But to be hit by a car and have your blubber hanging off the side of an ambulance stretcher on WBZ-TV? No, thank you. (page 2)

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. (page 51)

“What sport do you want to play?” Mom says.
“Something that would help me get some exercise.”
“You mean like bowling?”
“Bowling, baseball, whatever.”
“What about your asthma?”
The asthma again. My whole family is waiting for me to die. Unbelievable.
(page 109)

Is that a chuckle I hear? See? I was not kidding when I said this book was laugh-out-loud funny.

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