“Pumpkinheads” review

Rating: 6/10

Graesen Joyce

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks

Page Number: 211

Genre: graphic novel, romance

Rainbow Rowell fans, you’re in for a treat as sticky-sweet as caramel: tasty at first, but bland once the sugar high wears off. Those who loved Rowell’s classics, like Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, might be disappointed in Pumpkinheads’ relatively undeveloped plot, but its cuteness and length make it a perfect read for those chilly autumn nights when you want to snuggle up with your warmest blanket and watch the leaves turn orange. 

The story follows friends Josiah and Deja, who reunite each fall to work at the local pumpkin patch, spending shifts stirring succotash and snacking on s’mores. For three years, Josiah has been afraid to talk to his crush, and on their last night, Deja and Josiah go on a mission to find her, giving Josiah one last chance to confess his feelings. 

Deja and Josiah visited a series of places within the pumpkin patch Halloween Night, from the Pie Palace to the Corn Maize Graesen Joyce

Compared to Rowell’s other novels, Pumpkinheads simply didn’t resonate with me. It’s a one-sitting read, and while I enjoyed those few hours of entertainment, it was easy to move on to another story afterwards. There aren’t many expositional breaks from the storyline of finding Josiah’s crush, so Deja and Josiah’s background and friendship is limited to how they normally interact with each other and other pumpkin patch employees. Most of the background information is only there to give readers insight on the characters’ personalities—which, for the record, Rowell does an excellent job developing. Deja and Josiah’s back-and-forth banter makes for an entertaining read, and it’s easy to tell they’ve been friends for a while.  

One of the only reasons I didn’t give this book a higher rating was the sudden character development at the ending. Josiah made an impulsive decision that seemed out of character for someone who had acted with caution for 80% of the book, and his change of heart seemed abrupt and forced, like Rowell tried to squeeze in a happily-ever-after before Halloween night came to a close. 

On a more positive note, I appreciated the diversity of the characters who work at the pumpkin patch, as well as the consistency of Hicks’ art style. The color scheme, created by Sarah Stern, was absolutely beautiful. By incorporating sunset colors such as orange, purple and blue, the visuals gave off subtle Halloween vibes.

At a time in the school year when the “new” feeling has worn off and our backpacks seem to grow heavier with each passing week, a sweet story like Pumpkinheads might just be what you need. So if you’ve been ready for the season of pumpkin spice and jack o’ lantern carving since July, or if you’re simply looking for a cute romance to flip through in your favorite pair of cabin socks this fall, Pumpkinheads is for you.