Geography Club - Brent Hartinger

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

In a nutshell, guy finds out he's not the only kid who identifies as non-heterosexual and so they create a club so they can hang out. How to get no one else to join? Name it some thing terribly boring. Life, love and learning happen.

Geography Club is a book that I should have read sooner rather than later, because now, years after I read The God Box and Out of the Pocket, when queer characters like Jesper Fahey and queer authors like Nina Lacour are on the scene, this book feels shallow and too much like a badly-planned after-school special. This is the YA voice I wish we’d leave behind. Maybe it was important, maybe it was influential and the voice didn’t grate back then, but this immaturity bugs me in MG as well as YA. It’s a voice that seems to talk-down to kids even as it sidles up to them, trying to pass as one of them.

It’s the reason One and Only Ivan (a book about a poetic gorilla) was better than Crenshaw (a book about a homeless kid), by the same author, written in the same voice.

Maybe it’s been a while since I read Kate DiCamillo, but I feel like this book would have been MG if not for the references to drinking and sex— not that young kids don’t know about these things, or aren’t exposed to them, and honestly, we should be honest with them about these things.

Also, another reviewer pointed out that this is a very sanitized and simplistic look at bullying and being gay. It’s also very white. I thought the star athlete was black until someone else, who was black, was introduced, and it was clear that the kid was maybe tan? Why do authors leave skin-color so ambiguous?

The only thing this book had going for it was a few clever quips, and a sometimes allegorical view of high school. But if this was an allegory, it was a terribly poor one, and I don’t think you should read this.

Pages: 244
Year: 2004
Publisher: HarperCollins

Read: 25 April 2017
Stars: 0.5 (hated it)