Monday, March 7, 2011

The Kid Table - Andrea Seigel

The Facts
Author: Andrea Seigel
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date of Publication: September 2010
Length: 320 pages

The Fiction
From Goodreads: Ingrid Bell and her five teenage cousins are such a close-knit group that they don't really mind sitting at the kid table—even if they have to share it with a four-year-old. But then Brianne, the oldest cousin, lands a seat at the adult table and leaves her cousins shocked and confused. What does it take to graduate from the kid table?

Over the course of five family events, Ingrid chronicles the coming-of-age of her generation. With family members who play Christmas music at a bar mitzvah and invite a grown man to play Baby New Year at a party, she’s not so sure the right generation is sitting at the kid table. When first love comes in the form of first betrayal (he’s Brianne’s boyfriend), Ingrid is forced to question how she fits into her family and what it means to grow up- only to realize that maybe the kid table what where she wanted to be all along.

I was really excited by the concept of this story, as I’m sure many others can relate. Despite the fact that the ‘baby’ of the cousins is almost eighteen, my cousins, siblings and I are still always relegated to the ‘kid table’ at any family function (and I kind of get the feeling that none of us will be moved to the big table anytime soon). I was really interested in the relationship between the cousins and their varying roles within Ingrid’s family (if we are getting personal, I’m definitely an Autumn. To an almost-freaky extent. I also have cousins who scarily resemble Dom and Micah) – though I did find it took me a while to work out who was related to who (thank goodness for the handy-dandy family tree at the beginning for reference). For me, the most enjoyable scenes were those filled with the banter and in-jokes and family anecdotes between the cousins.
I was consistently surprised with Ingrid’s voice as narrative. She’s sharp and makes some quite cutting (and hilarious) observations, and yet there were other moments where I struggled to relate to her, or understand certain actions. I felt like I wanted to really get to know who Ingrid was. Whilst The Kid Table is certainly a coming-of-age story, I couldn’t help but feel a little empty at the ending, like something with Ingrid was lacking (or possibly owing to the fact that I personally couldn’t understand her attraction to/relationship with Trevor).

Backwards step a little – I felt like I enjoyed the cousins-dysfunctional family elements more than I did Ingrid’s narrative. I was really interested in Dom, Micah and darling Cricket (I do have quite a soft spot for her) but had trouble warming to Brianne (who constantly psychoanalyses Ingrid and points out her possibly psychopathic traits, and also, why does no one else in the family seem to tell Brianne to pipe down in these moments? Hmmm).

Anyway, overall The Kid Table is an amusing read, chock-full of anecdotes and observations about families that will surely ring true to most readers. The characterisation of many extended family members is spot-on and enjoyable, but ultimately I struggled to identify with Ingrid's journey of self-discovery (but I could have easily sat through another hundred pages of family dysfunction, her childhood nostaglia and snappy banter with the cousins).

Thanks to Good Golly Miss Holly for hosting the ARC tour which allowed me to read this book!


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