What do you do when you are moving to a new school, leaving our best friend behind and live with you recently divorced mother and are not the most pretty or outgoing person? You reinvent yourself as someone more exciting, glamorous, someone with a peanut allergy. Only, you do not have an actual peanut allergy.
Ayun Halliday’s Peanut is a slightly different take on trying to fit in. It is a semi-text heavy graphic novel with sketch-like art by Paul Hoppe. And to show the main character, Sadie, she is the only one who has color. Which is the color red. This makes it a little hard at times to keep track of some characters as they have similar looks, shapes and sizes. I am assuming red is to symbolize that Sadie is different, she now stands out, she will not have to put a cute-guy picture on her locker as she now has a real-life cute boyfriend called, Zoo. And later, she is the Scarlett Woman: she is marked by the fact her allergy is not true.
The story itself is simple: Sadie makes friends, goes through school, tries to keep her allergy lies straight and hiding the truth with creative solutions (she tells the nurse she will keep her imaginary EpiPen in her purse, she tells friends that the pen is medical equipment not something to show off). There is a little about being true to yourself in an obvious way (Zoo does not use technology (cells or computers) and does his homework the old-fashioned way by going to the library and refuses to get a cell just because it is convenient). But mostly it is just following Sadie day by day and how she keeps digging herself in deeper.
Multiple reviews have the point saying that Sadie is never made to deal with the consequences of her actions (because of her lies, at a school bake sale a teacher (who seriously, but understandably, overreacts) thinks Sadie has ingested peanuts causing there to be a false 911 call). I feel this is true. However, the author tries to give her a punishment by giving her the worse punishment known to a kid: being ostracized from most of her peers. But yes, too many people forgive her. She does not really seem to learn from this situation.
This is the second time reading this book and enjoyed it more this time around. I had forgotten I had read it, but quickly did after realizing that I remembered she did not have the peanut allergy but could not remember the rest of it, commencing to reread. I was willing to forgive the ending as I was more fascinated with the fact that I had forgotten the color theme and was seeing the possible “Scarlet Letter” parallel. And more interested in character development overall. Everyone seems realistic, believable and how at the time an allergy would be the thing used to “get attention” and wondering what possible situation one would use if this was set today.