the kid table

Friday, December 10, 2010 |

I’ve said it here before, and I’ll probably rave again – I’m a fantasy geek. I love escaping the here-and-now and experiencing the only-in-someone’s-wildest-imaginings. BUT. Every once and a while contemporary fiction punches me in the gut. In a good way, if you can picture that. Well, never mind, I can’t either. I meant to infer that there’s something so very raw and honest and mirror-like about it that you can’t help but be caught up, moved, and possibly even changed forever. Andrea Seigel’s novel The Kid Table was a bit like that for me. Or a lot. You decide.

It's there at every family event. A little smaller, collapsible, and decked out with paper napkins because you can't be trusted with the good ones. But you're stuck there. At the Kid Table. Because to them- to the adults- you're still a kid.

Ingrid Bell and her five teenage cousins are in exactly this situation. Never mind the fact that high school is almost over. They're still eating mac and cheese with a toddler. But what happens when the rules change? When Brianne, the oldest cousin, lands a seat at the Adult Table, the others are in shock. What does it take to graduate from the Kid Table?

Over the course of five family events, Ingrid and her cousins attempt to finish childhood and send the infamous table into retirement. But as Ingrid turns on the charm in order to manipulate her situation, the family starts questioning her motives. And when her first love comes in the form of first betrayal, Ingrid is forced to consider how she fits into this family and what it means to grow up.

First off, you should know that I’m from a large family of VERY close siblings. I mean there are five of us kids, and only six and a half years separating us in age. So there’s that parallel with the story already. I could picture Ingrid’s family (albeit extended, while mine is immediate) so clearly that it startled. I felt like I’d lived the scenes. The ones where one relative does that THING or someone else has THAT quirk – it was just real, you know? I discovered a very rare and authentic connection. With a fictional family.

And then there was the narrator, Ingrid – who discovered (for herself) what she was really like over the course of the book, and if she was okay with that. I identified with Ingrid's psyche, and not always the good things, either. The Kid Table was seriously eerie in parts, because I found myself in it. I was tempted to write to Ms. Seigel immediately after finishing the novel to demand to know how she’d gotten in my head. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling necessarily, but it was true.

As for the novel on its own merit, it’s about coming of age/adulthood. In other words, it’s a universal story. It has real-seeming characters, making real mistakes, on a very real stage. I think it will appeal to a lot of young adults, and probably even more so to the older readers of young adult fiction – those of us a couple of years on, who are still wondering faintly if we did it right? If we’re there. Adults. Or wherever it is that we’re supposed to be. I really enjoyed The Kid Table. Go read it, find bits of yourself in it or perhaps bits of others. But I hope you’ll find that it’s as true and beautiful (in a hard-as-diamond sort of way) as I did.

“This book is the real thing—hilarious, original, and as true as your mother thinking your boyfriend's too good for you. Boy do I wish I'd written it.”

—Meg Rosoff, author of the Michael L. Printz award winner How I Live Now

Recommended for: older teens, anyone with a large family or a treasure trove of stories from family gatherings, fans of contemporary young adult novels, and those looking for honest fiction.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds cute.

SO many siblings so close. What a lovely blessing :) I adore my two :)

Ginny Larsen said...

AWESOME review! remind me why you don't get paid for this? hehe... sounds like something i'd like :D

Peaceful Reader said...

Great review! It is nice to hear about siblings who get along-must be fun around the holidays!

Lisa said...

I'd seen this one around but not really read anything about it. I'm going to have to pick it up now; great review!

Nomes said...

this sounds seriously fun.

and yay for coming from a large family!

also - that quote from meg rosoff = GOLD

Bidisha said...

The Kid Table sounds unique and awesome.

And I second Nomes about the Meg Rosoff quote. Invaluable.

Lauren said...

Fascinating review. I hadn't heard of this book before, but from the way you've described it I'm sure I'll be wondering how the author got inside my head too.

I grew up in a close extended family which had at least one weekly family meal together. As the oldest child (my sister and the cousins all more than three years younger) I always had a seat at the adults table. It was a matter of some controversy - one particular cousin launched repeated objections (I should either be ousted to the children's table, or *she* should join the adults too.) I am *so* tempted to buy her this book for old times' sake. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :)

Giada M. said...

I'll have to add this book to my wishlist. It sounds very cute!

CarlyB said...

I'm really excited about this one! I should be getting a copy soon as part of a book tour and I can't wait. Awesome review :) x

redhead said...

Great review!!! this is a book we can all relate to!

I remember how jealous I was when my big sister graduated from the kid table. The next year, I got to sit at the grown up table, only because an elderly aunt & uncle couldn't make it and suddenly there was a seat available.

but the conversation at the kid table was way better.

Alyce said...

You make it seem so much better than I thought it would be (especially since I'm not a fan of that cover).

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