Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel

Book: The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-Alone
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 14th, 2010
Description (From Goodreads): 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 (he's Brianne's boyfriend), Ingrid is forced to consider how she fits into this family and what it means to grow up.

The Kid Table takes an in depth look at a highly dysfunctional, yet loving, extended family. The book follows the Bell family, through the character of Ingrid, to five different events. The book covers all different kind of issues, including eating disorders and homosexuality. Because the story is seen through Ingrid's eyes, you spend a lot of time with her cousins - her fellow "kid table" castoffs. There is Cricket, Ingrid's closest relative, Dom and Micah, the two male cousins, Brianne, Autumn and, four-year-old, Katie. The trouble (and story) begins when Brianne suddenly is given a place among the adults at Ingrid's Uncle's bar mitzvah. This causes friction among the other cousins, especially Cricket, and sets everything into motion.

The Bar Mitzvah is also where Ingrid meets Trevor. Ingrid is instantly taken with him and engages in some flirting, before she realizes that he is Brianne's new boyfriend. This is one of the major problems I had with this book. From the get go, I never really liked Trevor. To me, it was obvious that he was using Ingrid, while dating one of her cousins. For that matter, I did not exactly warm up to Ingrid either. While I enjoyed some of her general cynicism, her overall character was rather flat. I found some of the other family members, like Cricket, much more interesting. Cricket is the cousin that deals with an eating disorder and I have to tell you, I would have loved to follow her story instead of reading about Ingrid complain because Trevor is taken.

In fact, the redeeming part of the book was definitely Ingrid's slightly deranged family. Each member of the Bell family is unique and distinctive - and they all have their own baggage and quirks. Like I said before, I enjoyed the character of Cricket, but I also enjoyed Brianne. Brianne was one of those characters that you love to hate. She is the oldest of the cousins and is now attending college, where she is a psych major. Early on in the book she comes to the conclusion that Ingrid is a psychopath. She makes this diagnosis based on Ingrid's sort of emotionless attitude, general demeanor and shockingly unfortunate luck with pets. She promptly announces this to family and continues to pick out psychopathic behaviors Ingrid displays through the book. 

I enjoyed the format of the book - you only witness the five family events depicted. There is no in-between storyline, you simply skip to the next time the family is together. The overall tone was to my liking and while I appreciated the idea of the story, the main characters just fell a little flat for me. 

However, the Kid Table was an enjoyable read, mainly because of the spectacular host of secondary characters. The writing is also superb - Siegel does a wonderful job creating a truly outrageous, yet charming family that everyone can relate to.


Jenny said...

Really fabulous review Sarah, this one does sound like an interesting read. There's something about crazy, slightly dysfunctional families that's always of interest to me. It's too bad the most intriguing characters are not the main ones:( I do like that there's only the one storyline though, that would be refreshing since most of the ones I've read lately have a lot going on!

Vicki said...

I was thinking this sounded quite good and different! Shame you didn't like the characters though!

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