Teen Book Reviews
Published on Monday, June 18, 2012 - 10:00am
Summertime is, among other things, a time to catch up with friends and family. Love them or hate them, your relatives are one part of your life that you can’t escape. A book that I’ve read recently, The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel, captures the wackiness of these celebrations to a T. Read on to find out how our narrator deals with her aunts, uncles, cousins and other assorted relations.
Ingrid Bell has a large extended family full of wacky relatives and crazy cousins: motherly Autumn, rebel Micah, gay and closeted Dom, snarky Cricket, and slightly older but bratty Brianne. At every family gathering, there’s a separate table for them called the Kid Table. This happens despite the fact that they will soon be graduating high school. Ingrid’s always been on an even keel, but that makes psychology major Brianne think she’s really a psychopath. Over the course of five family events, Ingrid tries to shrug off the label and help her cousins with their various problems, from Cricket’s anorexia to Dom’s fears of coming out to the family. But throw in Brianne’s boyfriend Trevor, who clicks with Ingrid in too many ways to be comfortable, and Ingrid may end up making Brianne’s diagnosis a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Anyone with a large extended family can enjoy this title. While focusing on Ingrid, you also get a sense of her family’s wacky characters, and most people have relatives like that and can sympathize with her predicament. Teen readers will also relate to Ingrid and her cousins' desire to be recognized as grown by the adults and frustration at their lack of acknowledgement and position at the Kid Table for the foreseeable future.
While Brianne diagnoses Ingrid as a psychopath on a whim, Ingrid frequently thinks about how she manipulates people to get what she wants from them. While she’s definitely a reliable teen narrator with the normal dose of sarcasm, there may be some truth in Brianne’s diagnosis. The family gatherings in this book take place in a variety of locations, but there are just enough details leaked that readers will find themselves transported to the family home for Thanksgiving or the reception hall for the wedding. This title won’t appeal to everyone, but with a little selling, it can find its way into the hands of the right reader.
The Kid Table is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers. Check it out at Northeast Library or your local DC Public Library branch today!