It’s about time for another book review blog post.
With my long reading slump, plus my repetitive blog posts during the past few weeks, I was expecting myself to take a little longer to write out book reviews simply because they take a lot longer to create. I, too, am surprised that I have not only finished a book that is on my tbr (to-be-read), but also feel motivated enough to write a nice, lengthy book review for it.
Hope you guys enjoy this book review!
by Rainbow Rowell (Author), and Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by First Second
In Pumpkinheads, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Rainbow Rowell and Eisner Award–winning artist Faith Erin Hicks have teamed up to create this tender and hilarious story about two irresistible teens discovering what it means to leave behind a place―and a person―with no regrets.
Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.
Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.
Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .
What if their last shift was an adventure?
Pumpkinheads follows Deja and Josiah, two best friends who work at their town’s pumpkin patch every single year. Unfortunately, this year Deja and Josiah are in their senior year of high schools and their last shift together at the pumpkin patch. When Deja comes up with a plan to get Josiah talking to the cute girl he’s been crushing over the past three years, the two head off on an unexpected adventure…across their own pumpkin patch field.
This was one of the cutest graphic novels I have ever had the privilege of reading. Let’s start off with the artwork. The illustrations in this graphic novel were done by the talented Faith Erin Hicks, and I love everything about the work that she has done. The colours selected intentional and very fitting with the seasonal theme– autumnal with lots of warm tones– oranges, purples and greens, and it really enhanced the reading experience. I also really liked how the panels were different in size and layout, no consecutive pages were alike, but it was still really easy to read. The food illustrations were particularly amazing and I found my mouth watering at the sight on a “vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two wedges of pumpkin pie, on a stick, dipped in chocolate”. That sounds (and looks!) absolutely heavenly. I never knew I could crave something I had never tasted or had heard of before.
Now, excuse me while I put my English literature student hat on. Please prepare for an unnecessarily long analysis on this text.
I love how it’s set in the season of Autumn/Fall; because, 1.) I rarely come across books set in this season; and 2.) I read it right in the middle of the season. It is said that Autumn has all kinds of meaning and symbolism. One of the common symbolisms of Autumn is change and growing old– think rotting, falling leaves and muted darker colours. However, there are other connotations of the season. For example, John Keats, a Romantic poet, wrote a poem titled ‘To Autumn’:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
In Keat’s poem, it could be said that autumn is described with words such as “ripeness“, “fruitfulness” and “sweet“. These words paint a picture of warmth and colour– not rotting leaves or empty, flowerless fields. In this poem, Keats uses imagery that is often associated with autumn such as “hazel shells”, and “warm days” to remind the reader of the more positive connotations of the season. I love that analysis, and I think it’s quite fitting in this scenario because we see an abundance of autumnal references like food and festivities. Lots of the imagery were very seasonal, warm– it’s like a pumpkin spiced latte but in the form of a graphic novel.
Another common association with Autumn/Fall is “Change“. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant is change.” Autumn is a reminder that everything around us, even humans, are prone to change– the beginning of a new season, the different colour of the leaves, time continuously moving etc. It’s a gentle reminder that we should savour h present before it is gone. Change is a big element in this book. Both of the main characters are growing up, leaving their pumpkin patch jobs, and leaving that warm, comforting environment for something new; however, change does not need to be a negative thing. For our characters, college/university is a a new opportunity to try new things, make new friends, and learn more about yourself.
When you think of “Autumn” what are some of the words that pop up in your mind? I think of the words “cosy”, “warm” and “orange”. The Autumnal season brings about “Comfort“. Not only is this when temperatures start to drop, but it’s also THE season to start bringing out the throw blankets, light up some candles, and decorate our room for the new season. Similarly, this book brings out so much comfort. It’s a story of two best friends falling in love in the backdrop of the coolest pumpkin patch– what is not to love? It made me wish that I could visit a fun pumpkin patch like this. However, we don’t really have something like this where I live currently, so I guess I’ll just have to reread this book for now. Hopefully one day I’ll get to experience something like this.
Letting Go. Falling leaves illustrates the beauty of letting go. The idea of letting go stresses, or problems and leaving all of it behind as we enter into a new season. In the book, the characters are letting go of what was such a big routine and part of their childhood– working at the pumpkin patch. Despite it being a difficult change, it’s essential to leave that part of their lives behind in order to move forward to the future.
Hope you enjoyed my A-level (high school level equivalent for all the non-UK friends out there!) literature student analysis. Sometimes I wished I studied English Literature in university, I would’ve loved to critically analyse literature.
To conclude, This is THE perfect autumn/fall read to get me in the mood for the new changing season. Of course, you could read this book at any time of the year that you feel like, but I just think it is better suited for when the pumpkin spice fills the air, and the leaves are changing their colours.
7 Symbolic Meanings Of Autumn — From Letting Go To Self Preservation
The Curious Symbolism of Autumn in Literature and Myth
Have you read ‘Book Lovers’ by Emily Henry? Is it on your TBR?
Let me know in the comments below!
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