In a huge departure from the last book I read, another book to get you in the mood for Halloween is Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks. Grab your pumpkin spice and caramel apples and hop in the hay wagon with me as we go on a journey of growing up and seizing the moment.
Pumpkinheads, written by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, is about seasonal friends Deja and Josiah. Every September and October, they’re paired together in the Succotash Hut at DeKnock’s World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree, but now they’re seniors and it’s their last shift together. Josiah has had a crush on the girl who works in the Fudge Shoppe for years, and Deja challenges him to finally ask her out. But when he works up the courage, he finds out she was sent somewhere else to help. He and Deja set out on an adventure through the Patch, trying to track down the girl and eating all the delicious snacks on offer.
This was an unbearably cute story. I am a big fan of stories that are set over the course of a single day – like Empire Records – stories that are a snapshot in time but still manage to be an emotional journey. Deja and Josiah’s last night at the Patch becomes an adventure – visiting one spot after another as they try to find Fudge Shoppe Girl, escaping from the rampaging escaped goat, dealing with Deja’s multitude of exes (both boys and girls, yay representation!), and putting out literal fires. It’s a fun mishmash of events that allows the two friends to face some serious introspection.
I also love the idea of seasonal friends. As a regular convention-goer, I often run into the same people at every convention, and I only really interact with them at the con. It’s an odd sort of camaraderie that exists between two people who only see each other a few times a year and don’t interact outside of that, and I love getting to see how Rowell explores that dynamic here. You wouldn’t know that Deja and Josiah only see each other two months a year, given how they interact and how close they seem. They have a wonderful relationship – supportive, teasing, genuine – and it’s endearing watching them chase food thieves and get lost in corn mazes.
Pumpkinheads will definitely put you in the mood for Halloween. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the idea of corn mazes or pumpkin patch festivals, Hicks’s art is dripping with atmosphere. Autumn has a particular smell, and I could almost smell it while reading this book (despite it still technically being summer and, oh, about 90 degrees outside). It’s colorful and charming and evokes memories of trick-or-treating and filling up the bed of my dad’s pickup truck with leaves and driving around the village.
This is a story about taking fate into your own hands, about not letting opportunities pass you by, about friendship and nostalgia. And food. Lots of food. It’s a lovely, touching tale that will put a smile on your face…and possibly give you a craving for fudge.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks is published by First Second Books and is currently available wherever books are sold.
*I was provided a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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