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Young Adult Discussions > Matthew J. Metzger, The Suicidal Peanut

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Ulysses Dietz | 1576 comments The Suicidal Peanut
By Matthew J. Metzger
Queerteen Press, 2015
ISBN: 9781611528091
Cover by Written Ink Designs
Five stars

Smart. Funny. Well-written. Thought-provoking. Touching.

Tab is 17. He’s survived high school in fairly good shape, but for his mother’s downward spiral into madness, which has left him living with his gay Uncle Eddie and Eddie’s trans partner JuliKate. Eddie and his makeshift family live over the store, which in this case is a boxing gymnasium and training center somewhere in an English city. Tab (definitely not a boxer) goes to art school and helps out at the front desk.

It is from this vantage point that he bemoans his virginity and develops a crush on a mysterious young boxing student with broken teeth and cheekbones that could cut glass. Simultaneously, Tab’s schoolmate Maxie pushes him to get to know her gay twin brother, Demi, and thus Tab develops a texting relationship (kids these days) with Demi, whom he has never met.

The central charm in this winsome tale of young romantic frustration is Tab’s character. We see everything through his eyes, and thus see only what he sees, blinded a bit by his own self-doubts and hormone-infused youth. Tab is a profoundly sweet and gentle boy; stronger than he thinks, but compassionate and big-hearted. Raised by a mad mother and his unconventional uncle and aunt, he isn’t quite sure how he should be socially in the world, which sometimes prevents him from seeing what might be right before his eyes.

The most vividly presented second-tier player in Tab’s drama is his friend Maxie, who’s larger than life in every way and is a smart foil to Tab’s own shrinking violet self. The more nebulous figures of Nick (the boxer) and Demi (the twin text friend) are subtly sketched out for us, purposely kept vague because that’s the way Tab sees them.

The overarching motif of the book is a portrait that Tab is making for his college drawing class, to be displayed and critiqued in a class exhibition. The carefully thought out use of Tab’s drawing – how he approaches his subject; the techniques he decides to use to depict his “sitter;” and his own emotional turmoil over the whole project – serve to give us deeper insight into Tab’s own soul. The reader can see that Tab is a naturally gifted artist, even if he doesn’t believe it himself. We struggle alongside Tab to deal with his feelings about Nick (who he sees but doesn’t know) and Demi (who he knows but doesn’t see). The pain Tab feels, and which we share, is mitigated by his sense of humor, and the author’s ability to make us laugh at the foibles of being a teenager without losing any sympathy.

A really wonderful YA book that distinguishes itself by sheer cleverness and understanding of the teenage mind.

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Jason (jason_williams) | 18 comments Great review! I love this author. Gonna have to bump this one up on my priorities.

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