Fall is my favorite season. I love pretty much everything about it and going to a pumpkin patch is high on my list of must do activities. When I heard Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks talking about Pumpkinheads at a comic convention, I knew that this book must be mine and it did not disappoint! The pumpkin patch is just an endearing setting (albeit one I ardently wish I could visit and inspired by a real pumpkin patch Rowell visited growing up), what makes this book magical is the relationship between between Deja and Josie.
Deja and Josie (Josiah) have been Fall pumpkin patch buddies for the past four years of high school. Once the season was over they would go their separate ways to reunite once again the following year. Tonight is the last night of the patch for the season and since it’s their senior year, their last night of hanging out, ever. Josie has been mooning over a girl, who works in the fudge shop, since he first started at the patch but never built up the gumption to talk to her, or even find out her name.
Josie’s attitude is that by never talking to her, he can never screw it up, and if it’s meant to be it will magically happen on it’s own. After all, that’s how he and Deja became friends, fate. Deja thinks this is a bunch of crap, that it was their choices that brought them together and in the end choose each other as friends. Deja refuses to let Josie miss out on meeting the fudge shop girl, Marcy. And thus begins their adventure, for him to finally introduce himself to Marcy and for Deja to eat all the different treats on offer at the patch.
This is no easy task, of course, as the pair make their way from one end of the patch to the other trying to track Marcy down and enjoy activities that previously they had been too busy working to enjoy. Along the way they avoid a ram on a tear, deal with a sweet thief, and duck out of all responsibilities to their jobs in order to fulfill this mission. Expectation and reality are often not the same. When Josie finally meets up with Marcy, it’s not what he had built up in his head over the years. He realizes that he had been wanting something that he already had but didn’t know it. There isn’t much of a surprise at how this book ends but it is delightful and sweet regardless.
Things I loved about Pumpkinheads, besides Deja and Josie, number one, the food. Oh my goodness! At the panel, Rainbow and Faith spent a good amount of time talking about the food. Freeto (frito) pie is a real thing that I was previously unaware of but now want to try. Open a bag of fritos and pour chili, cheese, and various other condiments on top. Pumpkin bombs, vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two wedges of pumpkin pie, on a stick, dipped in chocolate, is not real, but I now wish it was because it sounds awesome. Number two, while Josie has never had a significant other due to general shyness, Deja seems to have had a healthy set of relationships over the years with various other workers, male and female, at the patch. All of which seemed to have ended on congenial terms. She sets an excellent example for young readers! Number three, the characters are a nice variety of skin tones and body shapes. This has become more important to me as over the years I came to realize how homogeneous most of what I read growing up was, and I’m glad my daughters have books like this to read.
If you like Rainbow Rowell’s other books, I don’t see how you wouldn’t like this one. If you like stories of friendship and ‘one last night’ before change happens, you’ll like this book. If you enjoy all the fun that an excellent pumpkin patch can offer you’ll like following along on Deja and Josie’s journey. I could probably keep going, this book is pure delight and I can’t recommend it enough!