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Pumpkinheads is a sweet workplace rom-com about friends Josiah and Deja who keep the Succotash Shack running at a pumpkin patch each autumn. It's the Halloween of their senior year - their last shift together - and Deja is on a mission to make sure that her work-bestie Josiah finally gets to talk to the girl he's been pining over for the past four years. She's also aiming to try all of the tasty foods the patch has to offer, no small task in and of itself. The night sees Josiah and Deja set off on an epic adventure fraught with peril and sparkling with the magical promise of autumnal treats and Halloweeny goodness that I yearn for at the end of summer.
As with many of Rainbow Rowell's novels and graphic novels, the story is focused on relationship building and self-discovery. Main characters Deja and Josiah have an odd-couple, quirky charm that works well. Introverted Josiah, for example, has struggled to make connections with the other employees at the park. Deja, on the other hand, seems to know everyone and encounters several exes over the course of the night. The two have a familiar sort of Dharma and Greg, Oscar and Felix, or Eleanor and Chidi type of relationship yet, through Rowell's writing and character development, manages to avoid reducing their character traits to the confines of the trope. Hicks's incredible art also brings the story to life, with a style that works well at representing a diversity of ethnicities and body types that other artists sometimes struggle with. The story is heartwarming, amusing, and sweet. Moreover, the novel itself flies by, and thus makes for a great weekend read.
Guest Contributor Bio: Alicia Burnette Whitley
Alicia is PhD Student in Literacy and English Language Arts Education at North Carolina State University. Prior to entering the PhD program, she taught high school English (9th Grade, African-American, YA, and British Literature). Her passion is culturally relevant and critical pedagogies, with a particular interest in multimodal texts and inclusive literary practices.