Thursday, February 12, 2015

Brent Hartinger - Geography Club

Russel Middlebrook is convinced he's the only gay kid at Goodkind High School.
Then his online gay chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school's baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students, too. There's his best friend Min, who reveals that she is bisexual, and her soccer-playing girlfriend Terese. Then there's Terese's politically active friend, Ike.
But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves?
"We just choose a club that's so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it. We could call it Geography Club!"
Brent Hartinger's debut novel is a fast-paced, funny, and trenchant portrait of contemporary teenagers who may not learn any actual geography in their latest club, but who learn plenty about the treacherous social terrain of high school and the even more dangerous landscape of the human heart.

Comment: This book has been in the pile for a long time. But I'll be really honest you you all. I had already read it.
Yes, it's true.
I had already read but I no longer remembered such thing!
I can't understand how this happened but the lesson to take from this is, the book wasn't memorable enough to make me remember I had already read it and now that I've re-read it I can say the same thing must have happened because it wasn't such an amazing read after all. 
This is probably why I forgot I had read it...

This is the story if Russell Midlebrook, a teen that think he's the only gay guy at his school. One night he chats on line with someone from his area and they find out they study at the same school. They meet and realize they have a secret in common. Russell shares with his best friend, one thing leads to another, there are more gay students at school after all and they are forced to start a fake club at school so they can talk without others making fun or knowing what's the conversations about. All goes well until the day someone non-gay wants to be part of the fake geography club...

Usually I can remember the books I've read. Sure, names and many details go away with time, but there's always a certain sense of memory when I think abut a title and if I did read it I can usually know it. Really unusual what happened with this one though.

At first I wasn't recognizing the book but the more I went on, stronger the feeling I knew those words and scenes from somewhere. Ha, I even thought dejá vu somehow, but it came to a point I couldn't avoid it any longer that I did remember this. I swear it's not something that happens a lot. I don't have anything against re-reads, I do re-read scenes from favorite books all the time, but I prefer to devote my full reading to the huge TBR pile.

I guess part of the reason is I've read this a long time ago so the overall idea just went away. But after finishing I couldn't help notice the book wasn't as marvelous as I thought and I admit I was a bit bored on some parts and it was very predictable.
The story line focuses on Russell as he's the narrator and we see his life and of his colleagues at school with all the expectations that entails socially. I mean, school has a hierarchy we all should know about and there are rules, groups, "laws" about how it all works. I get this, and adding the fact some kids are gay or bi, we all know how the school's society would react to difference and stigmas, right?
This part isn't actually bad, all the expected key groups and norm behaviors are there, including the poor guy who is the lowest of them all. Of course everything that happens is meant to teach a lesson not only to Russell as a character but to us, readers, as players of real life.

I was bored with some parts because Russell narrates everything and some of his thoughts, meant to be funny or sarcastic or ironic didn't really get their aim in my opinion. I think it was a bit forced to make him witty when he seemed and acted! as scared and naive as most of them.

The lesson meant to be learned, how we all should embrace others weaker than the majority, was well done but again, this was predictable and the way it happened even more so. I'm not saying it should be done different, but the way it was didn't seem to bring anything new to what we all already know.
While the story develops, friendships get rocky, people get disappointed, people grow up, but I think the best part was actually how important it is to just be good with one's conscience, if we do the right thing, our peace of mind knows it.

Overall, this story had a great potential and elements but the execution wasn't the smart work I hoped for - which I obviously didn't remember because it wasn't there after all - and nothing really stayed with me after I finished it. Guess this says and explains it all.
Nevertheless, it's a good story for teenagers, especially those who are going through the finding out of their sexual orientation. This book isn't self explanatory or a guide in any way, but it can show a bit of what it means to be strong in facing that reality. 
Still, not as wonderful as one might expect from the plot's idea.
Grade: 5/10

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