Blurb: Because everyone hungers for something…
Food and Sex: two appetites the modern world stimulates, but also the ones we are expected to keep under control. But what happens when we don’t?
Embarking on an affair, lonely wife and mother Naomi blossoms sexually in a false spring while David, the fattest boy at the local comprehensive and best friend of her son, struggles to overcome bullying and the apathy of his divorced mother.
David finally starts to learn about the mechanisms of appetite through a science project set by his intelligent but jaded teacher, Matthew. David’s brave efforts to change himself open Matthew’s eyes to his activist girlfriend’s dangerous plans to blow up VitSip, a local energy-drink company where Naomi works.
At the mercy of their appetites, this exciting debut novel shows that some hungers can never be satisfied…
Today I should be sharing my review but I haven’t finished this tasty treat as life has got in the way. I must say I am wholeheartedly loving it and when I have time and my eyes aren’t closing I’m devouring every second of it. So today I still wanted to honour my time on the tour for Anita and for RedDoor publishing so I have decided alongside the lovely Anna at RedDoor to share an extract and my thoughts. I’m sure in doing so you will also be itching to pick up this treat of a book….
David is the character I feel for most so far so I want to share an extract of his. As this book is split into three people David, Naomi and Matthew – the other two are great but without further ado I pass you over to David.
‘David!’ Kerri’s voice carried up the stairs. ‘Dinner, David!’ He got up slowly and went downstairs.
The word dinner had always been used loosely, and this
was especially the case since his dad had left. Walking into the living room, David smelt the meal before he saw it. The spicy aroma of fried chicken hung on the air, a calorific cloud. It smelt like Friday but it was still only Thursday. His mouth watered and he wondered why they were having this tonight. But, seeing the red and white boxes of crunchy chicken pieces, spiced burgers and onion rings, he suddenly didn’t care. The chips were pale and limp as always but the onion rings and popcorn bites…well, they were worth fighting his sisters for.
Staring hard at Kerri’s back as she walked into the kitchen, he felt the blackness from the day roil inside him. It was his favourite meal. Why had she bought his favourite? What was going on?
He sat down heavily on the sofa, waiting for her to come back in. The room was warm. It was dark outside but the curtains were still open.
‘I’ll shut these,’ said Kerri, moving to the window. ‘And then we can watch something… Shall we let David pick tonight, girls?’
‘Sure thing!’ said Emily brightly.
‘Awwww,’ moaned Jess.
Lying on the floor, mere inches away from the screen, she
was watching it with wide eyes, little pointed chin perched on laced-together fingers. She passed David the remote and stuck her tongue out at him. He scowled back. He wasn’t in the mood for her and her tween posturing tonight.
David continued to watch Kerri out of the corner of narrowed eyes. Having shut the curtains, she was now passing round drinks.
‘So, David can choose and then we can eat! I thought you might enjoy this tonight. And I got your favourite for dessert. A Viennetta! I thought: let’s go retro!’
David’s scowl hardened. Kerri only chattered like this when she was nervous. He looked again at the table. All the extra food. His own choice of movie. His preferred pudding. Why would she be trying so hard to make him happy?
He felt a pulse of anxiety beat through him. Despite the heat in the room, his whole body went cold.
‘He can’t make it, can he?’
The beat of silence was audible even over the noise of the television.
‘No,’ Kerri replied, unable to meet his eyes. ‘I’m so sorry, David. He texted this morning. Said he has to go away for work.’
There was another pause.
‘I’m really sorry. I know how much you were looking forward to it.’
‘That’s the second time he’s done that to David,’ piped up Jess. ‘Spanner!’
‘Jess!’ Kerri said sharply. ‘You know I won’t have you talk about your dad like that. Enough!’
David stared at the floor, face burning with a sharp mixture of shame, anxiety and disappointment, as well as that deep misery that only comes when someone confirms something that you suspected would happen all along. Not that suspecting it made it any easier to bear when it did eventually come to pass.
‘So, I got your favourite things in. And I thought, over the weekend, we could have a movie marathon… Hot dogs, wedges, popcorn, treats! We can snuggle up, watch DVDs, play games…’
‘Sure,’ David muttered and, reaching out for a burger, he popped open the box and began to eat.
They watched and ate in silence. David chewed his way mechanically through three burgers. He ate the onion rings and the little deep-fried balls of crispy chicken. He drank his way right through the two-litre bottle of Coke that Kerri had placed by his side. As the film progressed, and after the girls had been sent up to bed, David glanced up and noticed that Kerri hadn’t yet cleared the table of the things they had eaten. Despite feeling nauseous, he picked up the paper packet of chips and took a few out. They were stone-cold: granular and bland. The taste brought back what had happened the other lunchtime. He was used to the taunts but that had been something else. Feeling the knot of anger tighten beneath the sick feeling deep in the hard-soft folds of his belly, his fists and jaw involuntarily clenched. He sucked it up all day long at school and it was only at night or in the evenings, once the girls had gone to bed, that he could feel the anger heating up inside him, barely contained and waiting to explode like a chip pan about to catch alight.
Kerri came in with a mug of tea and a packet of biscuits. She sat down heavily in the armchair. David looked at the rolls of fat under her chin as she sat back and stared tiredly at the TV screen. Without even looking down, she peeled open the shiny dark-brown packet and took two chocolate digestives out of the top.
She’s the one who never cooked, thought David. She’s the one who was always busy, always working, always out doing something more important than preparing fresh food for us to eat. She’s the one who brought takeaways home. She’s the one who filled the fridge with fizzy drinks and sweets.
She’s the one who let Dad leave.
‘Do you want one?’ Kerri asked casually, placing the pack on the table. ‘I’ll take them back into the kitchen in a minute; don’t want to eat all of them…’ She trailed off and looked up, a rare moment of eye contact with her firstborn.
And, with that, David’s anger set alight.
‘No, I bet you don’t,’ he hissed back, voice hot and spitting. ‘Does it make you feel better to have someone even fatter than you to look at? Do you think I want to eat any more of the crap you buy? Do you think I want to look and feel like an enormous pile of shit every day? It’s your fault I’m like this – it’s your fault and I hate you. I hate you. I fucking hate you!’
Trying to ignore the dampening effect that his lack of speed was having on the impact of what he had just said, he lumbered up and off the sofa. Kerri was staring at him now, eyes wide and mouth open, stunned. And this – the fact that she looked so shocked, so fucking surprised – just made him angrier still. How could she not know? How could she not know how much it hurt?
He turned his back on her and stomped up the stairs. The fact that his knees ached, his back hurt and he felt sick just made him feel angrier. By the time he got to his room he could no longer contain it. Punching the pillows, he hit them over and over again, the feathers yielding, his stomach wobbling, his breathing shallow with the effort. He lay down heavily on the bed.
I’m even too fat to be angry, he thought.
The tears came next. As they ran down his face, hot and salty, he could feel them leaving sludgy tracks over his swollen cheeks.
There was a tapping on the door. He saw Kerri’s feet underneath it: patches of black against the strip of light coming through from the small hallway.
‘GO AWAY,’ he shouted.
The feet remained.
Minutes passed. There was another tap. ‘David… Please…’ David turned the volume on the television up.
There was another tap.
He turned the volume up even higher.
The feet moved on.
Suddenly feeling even sadder, David pulled open the
bedside drawer and grabbed a large, creamy-brown bag of Revels. Handful by handful, he ate them all, and then he stared at the television until he fell asleep.
Lying in bed the following morning, David still felt angry, but there was also a sense of embarrassment, of anxiety about having to go downstairs and see Kerri. His emotions had been served up scalding hot, and now, cold and congealed, it all seemed less important. He wondered why he had yelled. Well, he knew exactly why – he had been angry – but he was often angry and he usually managed to hide it. It was just that sometimes pretending not to care was too much. Sometimes it had to be released, squeezed out like the pus from a spot; and now he felt lighter – not really better, but a little lighter. He hoped that what would happen now was what always happened: she would act as if nothing had been said, and he would do the same. That pattern of behaviour was fairly reliable. Which was more than could be said for his dad.
David sighed and then got up. If he left it too late he would have to catch the bus, and that would definitely not make him feel better.
Washed and dressed, he went downstairs. As he approached the bottom of the stairs, he stopped, wobbling slightly but hesitating. ‘Jeez,’ he muttered. Even with the inches of MDF in between him and the shouting, it was ear-achingly loud.
‘It’s mine! You CAN’T have it!’ Emily was yelling.
‘It is NOT yours! I got it out of my drawer! It’s mine!’ Bracing himself, David went into the living room, wincing
at the noise as he opened the door.
Kerri came in from the kitchen. She looked tired; her face
was red and, with wet hair and her dressing gown still on, she was clearly also running late.
‘Are you still fighting over that hair clip?’ she cried out, exasperated. ‘I asked you to sort it out between yourselves!’
‘But it’s mine!’ said Emily.
I decided on this extract as I think this shows a lot of how David is feeling. He knows he needs to change his lifestyle but he’s the child he’s not the one making the dinner – he doesn’t call the shots. His outburst at Kerri for me was a turning point in understanding David’s struggles.
I love this book and I think Anita has a wonderful way with words and tells an intriguing yet very real and at times raw story. I’m bowled over by it and my review will come as soon as possible…