Graphic Novel Review: "Peanut" by Ayun Halliday

Sadie Wildhack is starting at a new high school, and is understandably quite nervous about it.  She has always felt like she blended into the background at her old school so she decides to broadcast her fatal peanut allergy to her new classmates as a way to try and distinguish herself from the crowd.  The only thing is, Sadie doesn’t really have a peanut allergy.  Oh, what a tangled web Sadie weaves….  it gets so big and out of her control that she doesn’t feel like she can tell her new friends (and boyfriend) the truth of it all.  And then circumstances force her hand in a big, big way.

Who CAN’T relate to this story?  I mean, maybe we haven’t necessarily gone to the extreme that Sadie has, but let’s be honest here.  How many times have you been thrust into a new situation – say new school, new job, new club, new class – really new anything that has rocked you out of your comfort zone a bit?  Didn’t you sit there, waiting for your turn to introduce yourself to the new person or new group and you start mentally working on a check list of “interesting” things about yourself to share?  It is in our nature to what to share the best side of ourselves, the things that we feel might be most attractive to others, and we want to be memorable.  But, unlike our new friend Sadie here, I hope we all try to remember to stay honest about it.

Sadie’s really is a cautionary tale, reminding us to stick with the truth even if we think it is not as exciting as an alternative.  Her story is pretty funny at times, makes you shake your head in disbelief in others because you know you would have done something differently…  but you really feel for her in the end.

The art is fairly simple and straightforward, with the only true colors on the page used effectively to make Sadie stand out on the page.  The story is simple as well, so the art is used mainly as support and not to add additional meaning.  It does help with the pacing as the way certain panels were drawn definitely had me reading with more urgency than others.

In the end, this is a fun little cautionary tale that is everyone can relate to.  I am so glad I finally go to read the book with a peanut on the cover – I had been curious about it for far too long!

by Ayun Halliday
Illustrated by Paul Hoppe
Schwartz & Wade, 2012
216 pages
Source:  Library

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