While reading American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang, I…
It’s a dangerous combo: The clunky coolness of a medical alert bracelet (just an internet away) topped with the terror of starting up at a new high school. Sadie comes up with a plan. She will start her life as Plainfield High School as The Girl with the Peanut Allergy in the comic book Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe.
It’s like she can’t even stop the words from falling out of her mouth as she explains the dangers of even a sliver of nut, ramifications she learned about when she complimented a girl with a medical alert ID before school started. This gives Sadie an immediate area of intrigue for her new classmates and after some bouncing around she lands in a good group and snags a technophobe boyfriend who uses her “allergy” as the point-of-entry to get to know her.
But. Lies are never without hiccups. There is a school nurse who needs paperwork signed and evidence that Sadie has an Epi-Pen on her person. There is her single mother, unaware that Sadie is fastening her own clunky alert ID when she leaves the house every morning. There is a boyfriend who has turned the peanut allergy into a term of endearment and a group of cool girls who find the whole allergy obnoxious.
This all comes to a head at the school bake sale.
Peanut is a cute little story about the way a little lie can roll into a boulder and get a life of its own. This story, for younger readers, is a pleasant enough way to spend an hour. And who knows: It might especially resonate with anyone who has ever gone into a restaurant and faked a cilantro allergy.