Framed through the lens of competitive eating, Slider by Pete Hautman is a witty, amusing and surprisingly heartfelt book about family, finding yourself, and fitting in.
David can eat an entire sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Not bad. But he knows he can do better. In fact, he’ll have to do better: he’s going to compete in the Super Pigorino Bowl, the world’s greatest pizza-eating contest, and he has to win it, because he borrowed his mom’s credit card and accidentally spent $2,000 on it. So he really needs that prize money. Like, yesterday. As if training to be a competitive eater weren’t enough, he’s also got to keep an eye on his little brother, Mal (who, if the family believed in labels, would be labeled autistic, but they don’t, so they just label him Mal). And don’t even get started on the new weirdness going on between his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan. Master talent Pete Hautman has cooked up a rich narrative shot through with equal parts humor and tenderness, and the result is a middle-grade novel too delicious to put down.
Though described by the publisher as middle grade, and perfectly appropriate content-wise for middle grade readers, in a lot of ways Slider felt more like a YA to me. That is, I think it will have broad appeal across multiple ages – from middle grade through adult.
Hautman has written a fresh, funny story that is also filled with meaningful insight into one teen’s world. And as much as the book is framed around the Super Pigorino Bowl, Slider isn’t really about competitive eating.
It’s about family. It’s about learning who you are and who you want to be. It’s about finding your place in the world, and learning that it’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out. It’s about the burdens we place on ourselves and on each other.
Slider is a book that’s hard to describe, but it was funny and engaging and insightful and truly just a delightful read. I really just adored this quiet, quirky little book and I found it deeply relatable and endearing. Look for it in stores on Tuesday.