This is my first book by National Book Award winner, Pete Hautman, and it won’t be my last. Slider is a quirky, warm upper middle grade novel about a (sort of) regular kid named David Miller who, untrained, can eat an entire pizza in less than 5 minutes and who lives his life sandwiched between a needy, overachieving sister and an autistic little brother who the family refuses to label as autistic so they label him “Mal.”
The characters in Slider are magnificent. David, his friend HeyMan, brother Mal and the troupe of random food-eating contestants are the type of oddball individuals we all love to love (or hate) because they are so deliciously imperfect and peculiar.
There’s a lot going on in Slider. From eating contests and getting duped by cheaters to caring for a developmentally delayed brother to watching young love take shape, Slider offers a mixed bag of storylines. Somehow though, Pete makes it all work out. Beautifully.
Reading Slider is a little like hanging out with a best friend you’ve known forever—there’s comfort and safety, meandering conversations, absolutely no judgment passed, sparks of insight, juicy gossip, and endless dry and quirky humor only understood by the two of you.
This is a book that grabbed my heart at the most unexpected moments—I gasped in surprise and delight at one part and held my breath in others, cheering David on. But mostly, I sat back and let David Miller’s story wash over me and my life for a couple of wonderful weekend days.
Watch Pete’s “Unboxing” video of Slider to capture the wonderful vibe of the author and his work: