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Geography Club

Geography Club

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Brent Hartinger

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  • Publisher: HarperTempest
  • Format: Paperback | 226 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 179mm x 14mm | 145g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2004
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0060012234
  • ISBN 13: 9780060012236
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 21,940

Product description

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, what became first of a series about Russel Middlebrook, 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.

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By Karielle 30 Mar 2013 5

In the conservative, oppressive town of Goodkind, Russel Middlebrook faces his biggest fear-publicly coming out-as he slowly discovers there are others at his own school, stubbornly questioning and reconciling with their sexualities, just like he is. In this town and in this decade, gay-straight alliances are unheard of-scorned, even-but upon kindling a brotherhood with the diverse group of people who are so different from him, and yet so similar, he learns that sometimes being yourself, no matter how hard, is more important than any reputation, any sort of acceptance, and any lie he'd be living otherwise.

I was so impressed by this children's LGBT novel both because of the controversial topic it daringly confronts, and by the strength and grace with which it is written. Russel's realistic first-person narrative-one of the pioneering gay narrations in YA fiction-is a pleasure to read and captures the horrors and injustices of the high school social scene penetratingly, but in an appropriate, parent-approved fashion. I loved him as a character as well; he's so awkward, nice, and hilarious in an adorable teenage boy way. We need more gay narrators for YA!

I also adore Russel's best friends, Min and Gunnar, because they aren't portrayed as the typical "he's been my BFFL and always has my back no matter what" crap. They're so flawed-so flavored-and that makes them so, so real.

This book is touching, frightening, and compelling in all the right paces. It accurately conveys the fear of learning to cross and even break the invisible, vicious barriers within the high school social ladder, but not explicitly; it leaves just enough to the imagination, which is why I wholeheartedly recommend it to the younger crowd, too.

The unexpected alliance Russel finds within Goodkind High School, the belonging and the assurance, highlights the importance of companionship and honesty of which I think all teenagers still need to be reminded. Even though Geography Club was written over ten years ago, the relationships Hartinger portrays stand the test of time in a poignant, universal story that readers of any age and any sexual orientation will love. In Geography Club, a handful of brave, passionate students stumble upon a connection in which they each can be completely honest with each other, as well as with themselves, for the first time in their young lives. This exchange of feelings and struggles that would otherwise be repressed is both gritty and soulful, and constitutes a brilliant coming-of-age novel.

Pros: Interesting, suspenseful storyline // Cutting humor-I laughed out loud so many times! // Realistic, but still lovable characters // Russel's voice is so accurate // Tackles a sensitive issue fluidly and in a way that will encourage young readers

Cons: Not enough rising action... wish there'd been more drama before the final climax

Love: We bought tickets for the stupid romantic comedy rated PG-13, but once we were inside the multiplex, Kimberly said she wanted to see the stupid erotic thriller rated R instead. As for me, I didn't want to see either the romantic comedy or the erotic thriller. I wanted to see the animated Disney musical, which I guess just proved that I really was the gay boy that I'd been thinking all along that I was.
-LOL this is why I love Russel!

Verdict: Brent Hartinger's inspiring and dazzling debut isn't just a novel about gay adolescents; it touches upon important global teen matters of friendship, identity, and the courage to speak out, as well. I loved everything about it-the characters, the voice, the absorbing plot-and think it's one of those books that all young adult (14-16) and maybe the more-mature middle grade (11-14) readers ought to try.

Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!).

By TeensReadToo 27 Sep 2010 5

Russel Middlebrook is pretty sure that he's gay. After all, he's not attracted to girls, and he spends every day after gym class studiously avoiding the other half-naked guys in the locker room. He's never had an actual experience with another guy, though, so maybe the attraction he feels toward them is something he'll outgrow--or maybe not.

While surfing the Internet one night, he finds chat rooms for different towns and cities, where you can talk to other people who are also gay. And amazingly enough, there's a boy he meets with the name GayTeen-- who not only lives in his town, but also attends his high school. Another gay boy, in his very own school? There's no way that could be true-- especially when he finds out that the kid with the handle GayTeen is none other than Kevin Land, star of the baseball team, one of the most popular guys in school.

As Kevin and Russel get to know one another, outside of school and hidden away from prying eyes, they realize that there's no way for them to be together inside school walls. The same is true for Russel's friends Min and Terese, who although they claim to just be really close friends, are actually in love. So along with a few others, including Gunnar, who is straight, and Brian Bund, the loser of Goodkind High School, the boys form The Geography Club. After all, no one else is going to want to join such a boring club--especially if they knew it was just a front for a gay/ lesbian school group.

As events at school heat up, with Brian eventually being outed as gay even though he's not, Russel, Kevin, and their friends will have to learn what's most important in life. And that sometimes, no matter how much you might wish for things to be out in the open, you're just not ready.

GEOGRAPHY CLUB is a great, quick read from author Brent Hartinger, about the ups and downs of daily high school life, and the struggle to find ones identity.

Review quote

"Lively and compelling... there's heart-palpitating romance... and there's plenty of humor in the witty writing."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books