Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Peanut, by Ayun Halliday

“The hardest thing about a peanut allergy is remembering to stay vigilant. Especially if you don’t have one.”


Written by Ayun Halliday

Illustrated by Paul Hoppe

Peanut is a graphic novel about a girl named Sadie who is transferring to a new high school. Her friend tells her that she can have a fresh start—she can be anyone she wants to be. So when Sadie goes to her new school she tells everyone about her severe peanut allergy. Except, she doesn’t have a peanut allergy… Sadie goes as far as purchasing a medical alert bracelet. At first her lie serves as an interesting conversation starter and Sadie becomes friends with a group of her peers. One boy named Zoo becomes her boyfriend and gives her the nickname Peanut. But between school medical forms, keeping her friends away from her mom, watching what she eats around her friends, and school bake sales, Sadie is bound to get caught up in her lie.

The illustrations in Peanut are in black and white loose pen sketches. The only color is Sadie’s shirt, which is always red. The chapters are broken up into the first few months of school. It is a quick read that’s visually appealing. The illustrations below show Sadie contemplating telling her friends the truth and how they might react.

I personally don’t like all the lying Sadie did or the fact that she claimed an illness she didn’t have. I also don’t think someone can go on for months just taking about an allergy. But there are definitely themes of trying to fit in and being true to yourself that young people will be able to identify with. One of the reasons Sadie made up the peanut allergy was because she didn’t think she was very interesting. She tries to walk the line between trying to fit in without completely blending in and wanting to stand out without being too far out.
To find out more about Ayun Halliday and other books she's written, visit
For more articles and reviews of Peanut, check out any of the following:

Check out this You Tube video for a quick summary of Peanut.


Karra Badakhshanian said...

This book sounds really interesting. I can definitely see Young Adults finding interest in it. Many students have trouble "finding themselves" in high school and often try out different identities along the way. This reminds me of the graphic novel, "American Born Chinese". While this is very common in Young Adult Literature, I have never heard of a student faking an allergy before! From your description, I wonder why Sadie picked a peanut allergy and why her shirt is always red and not another color. Could this color symbolize something? Many teens go through multiple struggles and challenges when growing up. By having books like this, they will not feel so alone and be able to relate personally to their literature. This will additionally encourage them to read other types of books and grow as a reader. I like that this book is a graphic novel because it appeals to a lot of different readers then. I could also see it as a normal novel, however, could you? I would definitely like to read this some day. While lying is wrong and is uncared for by most, as you stated, I feel like perhaps the moral of this story will help young adults find their way through adolescents.

Sarah Millen said...


Wow—I can’t imagine keeping up with a lie like Peanut did! The anxiety! But then again, I certainly see why she did it.

Teenagers want to fit it, to feel a sense of belonging. Many people have a difficult time starting conversations with others (especially a school full of new people), and a life-threatening peanut allergy is a conversation starter, I suppose.

I like your inclusion of the 60-second recap of the graphic novel. The image of Peanut with her medical bracelet really illustrates her desperation to maintain her lie. Yikes.


Giovani Toledo said...

Sadie seems to me like an extremely dislikable character. This makes me happy. Often times young adult books focus on likable characters that one is supposed to sympathize with. However, providing a reader a character who performs questionable actions creates for an interesting discussion. And although counterintuitive, having an unlikable protagonist might engage the reader more than one that is.