Because everyone hungers for something…
Food and Sex: two appetites the modern world stimulates, but also the ones we are expected to keep under control. But what happens when we don’t?
Embarking on an affair, lonely wife and mother Naomi blossoms sexually in a false spring while David, the fattest boy at the local comprehensive and best friend of her son, struggles to overcome bullying and the apathy of his divorced mother.
David finally starts to learn about the mechanisms of appetite through a science project set by his intelligent but jaded teacher, Matthew. David’s brave efforts to change himself open Matthew’s eyes to his activist girlfriend’s dangerous plans to blow up VitSip, a local energy-drink company where Naomi works.
At the mercy of their appetites, this exciting debut novel shows that some hungers can never be satisfied… (Goodreads)
When I was given the opportunity to read and review Appetite, I was expecting a book completely different from what this book is about. I had expected a Contemporary Romance or Romantic Comedy type book. Instead this turned out to be an entertaining and thought-provoking book.
As the title suggested, this centres around peoples appetites, more specifically sex and food. By becoming the observer of the three main characters lives, the reader, or at least I, was able to see how external factors influence these two very important appetites.
The people that are the main focus of the book vary in ages, sex and stages of life. We have David, who is a teenager at school, who has developed a very unhealthy diet; Matthew, Davids high school science teacher, who is going through a bit of quarter life crises after returning from Brazil and then there is Naomi, Davids friends mother, who is currently going through a rough patch in her marriage. Though the book does centre on these three characters quite extensively, you do get to a very good impression of the supporting characters. At times I found myself sympathising and empathising with those who exist on the fringe of the book.
To get back to the main characters of the book, I found that my attention naturally drew to David and Naomi.
David was the character who I sympathised with the most in the book. He is at that stage in life where he is at high school and is no longer a child but is not quite an adult. On top of this, he is also overweight which is the source of bullying by his classmates. As the book progresses, I began to see some of the influences on his eating habits. This is partly due to his emotions and partly due to how his mother prepares his dinners. You start to see a cycle develop and how difficult it is to break it.
When David is given a project by Matthew, it lights something within him and he starts to look at the scientific aspect to food within society. As he makes the decision to try to make changes in his lifestyle, I was rooting him own. Each small success had me cheering him on and through David I found myself thinking about the food I eat.
David’s journey isn’t smooth, but it just meant that I felt his despair and dismay when he seemed to slip. By the end of the book, David hasn’t drastically changed but with support of his mother and sisters, he seems to be on the road and has influenced his family to change their lifestyle for the better. It’s not done in a preachy way, but in a way that is a family coming together.
The other character who I found myself desperate to read more about was Naomi. Very quickly, it became apparent that Naomi was finding her life pretty stale. Though, it appears that she has everything; a successful career, a loving family and comfortable lifestyle. Yet, she still begins an illicit affair with a work colleagues husband. Naomi becomes blind to the fact that this just an affair and begins to see more to the relationship than actual exists.
I could see the end of the affair coming but when it does, it leaves Naomi devastated. It became clear that it wasn’t just the sex, but also the excitement and the illicit danger of doing something forbidden that added spice to, in her view, mundane life.
At first it seems that Naomi was going through denial, then acceptance and was beginning to move on from this chapter in her life, but then something happens that brings her back to square one and she once again sets out for this thrill and to feel desired. Other things happen to Naomi that once again seem to pull her back to the comfort of her husband and son and by the end of the book, it did seem that she was content with her family life. It is left open to interpretation if this is actually for the long term.
Much like David, Naomi’s upbringing could be a contributing factor to how she is acting and behaving. This does not excuse her actions but does give you a better understanding.
As for Matthew, I could never really warm to his character and I found myself skipping his sections or briefly skimming them. I understood his role in the book, but it wasn’t enough to have me anticipate the parts that focused on him. It was only when he interacted with David did I become interested.
Appetite was a really easy book to read and was able to highlight many issues surrounding society’s relationship to different appetites. Cassidy has written a book that proves to be thought provoking, but also a book where I did become very interested in the character’s journeys. Even after I closed this book, it still left an impact on me days later. This is a fantastic debut book and I anticipate the next book the author writes.