Plot: Floyd Piccolo, 14, is indeed unfortunate, and he’s anxious about starting high school, with good reason. On a trip to London he was the first person in a few hundred years to contract bubonic plague; his fast-food burgers tended to be season with bits of glass, and on his first day at his new school, the entire boys’ restroom collapsed when he flushed. Scientifically-inclined classmate Piers Pitstick posits hypotheses and conducts experiments intended to figure out – and stop --what’s going on with Floyd, all to no avail until they finally settles on the very unscientific premise that Floyd has been cursed by the Brazilian saint Babalú-Ayé, whose feast day is Floyd’s birthday, which is tomorrow….
Prose/Style: Kambitsis has an overly active sense of humor that he transforms into an understated narrative of hilarious happenings and observations. The vocabulary and sentence structure are synced to a YA audience’s comfort level, so youngsters will enjoy the story without having to stop and parse the meaning of the text.
Originality: This YA novel is a gem; it is a well-written, funny, highly inventive narrative with natural-sounding dialogue – all without the slightest hint of condescension or any noticeable didactic intent. Kids and adults alike will be engrossed in the story and gales of laughter will echo down middle-school hallways.
Character Development/Execution: Floyd has an identical twin brother, Lloyd, a raft of other sibs, parents who seem to take his multitude of misfortunes in stride, a good friend and a girl whose boyfriend he would like to be —all of whom are distinct, sympathetic, likable characters one would welcome as next-door neighbors. The other characters may be a little extreme in their thinking, or a little oblivious, but all are portrayed as unique individuals, and most are harmless.
Date Submitted: August 31, 2021