Summary: The Thing About Leftovers
The Thing About Leftovers has been on my TBR forever! It was even on my list of backlist middle-grade books to read this month, so I’m glad I finally got to it.
Fizzy is the daughter of divorced parents. Her father has remarried and her mother is in a serious relationship. Fizzy is also an excellent cook — so good that she’s entering the Southern Living cook-off. But she has other struggles to contend with. At school, she doesn’t have any real friends, and then her mom announces that she’s marrying her boyfriend, Keane (whom Fizzy dislikes). Fizzy also has to shuttle between both parents’ homes, and she’s constantly feeling like the “leftover” child since both her parents are moving on and forming new families.
Eventually, she does make two friends at school, a Japanese-American girl Miyoko, and a foster kid named Zach. As she gets to know both kids, Fizzy realizes that family comes in different shapes and sizes — and that each family has its quirks. But will she finally find her place in hers?
Although the start was a bit slow for me, I warmed up at about the 15% mark — and then I loved every word. Fizzy is such a sweet character, but the author does a stellar job of exploring her insecurities, worries, and the deep nostalgia she had for the time when her parents were together. This book is one of my favorite middle-grade books about divorce and blended families. I also loved Fizzy’s school experiences. Frankly, for me, the perfect middle-grade book has the right blend of school and home life, and this one did.
Fizzy’s friendships with Zach and Miyoko were soo healthy and heartwarming, it made me so glad that at least one thing was working for her. I also loved her relationship with her aunt, Liz. Although Fizzy’s mom was occasionally frustrating, I loved that readers can tell that she loved and prioritized Fizzy. I liked her mom much better than I did her father. I liked that Fizzy got a chance to talk things out with a school counselor (I’m always a fan of therapy-positive middle-grade books) when her emotions became overpowering.
Finally, the best part of this book hands-down was all of the food Fizzy makes! From lasagna to cakes and pies, everything sounded mouth-wateringly good. Payne made me want to materialize at a Southern barbecue party ASAP.
Overall: The Thing About Leftovers
Divorce is never fun, especially for kids who either feel abandoned or caught in the middle. Thankfully, books like this one exist to make such children feel somewhat less alone. The Thing About Leftovers is a sweet, moving, and scrumptious delight of a book! I’m delighted to have discovered C.C. Payne’s enrapturing storytelling style, and I’m eager to read more of her writing. If you’re on the hunt for a book that examines the adjustment period for children of divorce or those adjusting to a blended family, this is a fantastic choice. I would also highly recommend it to lovers of books about food.
Buy This Book
More Middle-Grade Divorce/Blended Family Books
- Not If I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler
- Solving for M by Jennifer Swender
- Up for Air by Laurie Morrison
- Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske
Have you read this book or any others by C.C. Payne? I’ve just bought Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom & the Challenges of Bad Hair and I’m looking forward to reading it.