Geography Club Book Review
Brent Hartinger writes about the loneliness and fear of being a gay kid in high school in the teen fiction book, Geography Club, published by Harper Collins.
Author: Brent Hartinger
High school isn't always easy. In fact, most of the time, it's a pretty rough ride. There's trying to fit in, trying to be popular, trying to make the team, trying to pass the test - the list goes on. But, it's even rougher if you're gay. Geography Club is about the tough time of being gay in high school.
Geography Club Members
Russel Middlebrook is your typical, average teen. He's not a nerd, but not a jock. He's not a loser, but not a winner. What he is - without a doubt - is gay. Russel knows it, but no one else does, and he feels like the only gay teen on the planet. Until he finds another gay teen from his high school in a chat room. Turns out it's one of the hottest guys - and biggest jocks - in the school. Then Russel discovers one of his best friends is bi-sexual - and her girlfriend also attends their high school. Looking for a way to bond, they decide to start the Geography Club, an afterschool club where they can - without the rest of the world knowing about it - share the pressures involved in hiding their sexuality.
Geography Club Hits
The book is interesting because it shows you how something that is easy for straight teens (like dating), is super-hard for gay teens. Some of the characters, like school loser Brian Bund and quirky club-joiner Belinda, are really interesting characters. They show how some straight issues can be just as painful and lonely as gay issues. They also are less annyoing and self-involved as characters like Kevin Land or Russel Middlebrook. Min is also a really cool, smart character, but despite being Russel's best friend, she's not in the story much.
Geography Club Misses
This book has all the makings of a compelling and compassionate read, but it just isn't. The storyline moves along too quickly. We don't really get to develop a bond with the gay characters because they are just exposed too easily. It might have been a better read if the whole thing wasn't from Russel's perspective only. It would have been cool to get to know Min or Belinda or Ike a little better and really see their struggles. The way Russel will do anything for his secret boyfriend is just lame.
The Bottom Line
By the end of the book, you do have a better understanding of the characters, but it's the end of the book. Too little too late. And yes, Russel gets a backbone and you actually start to like him again, but again - too little, too late.
Geography Club Rating: