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Alt Ed

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  834 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Susan Calloway, bullied and overweight, faces daily humiliation at the hands of her classmates - and she's had enough. With her anger about to reach the boiling point, Susan lands in an alternative education class, a sort of group therapy for the nearly expelled.

School is bad enough, but facing off with five peers, including her cruelest tormentor, is worse. Now Susan is b
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 9th 2004 by Speak (first published January 1st 2003)
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May 05, 2009 Nicole rated it liked it
While I liked the theory of the book, and it was definitely a page-turner, so I liked the plot, some rather glaring annoyances keep me from rating this as better than average. First, Susan, the title character learns to BOTH accept herself as she IS and CHANGE herself to be like what everyone wants her to be. It's as though it wasn't enough for Susan just to like Susan, she still had to be changed (lose weight) to be accepted (or so she thinks). Next, the characters were pretty stock. I felt lik ...more
Erin Stuhlsatz
Apr 13, 2013 Erin Stuhlsatz rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Like most of the books I've read so far on this list, Alt Ed was interesting but a pretty light read. I KNOW I've read YA books that were significantly more feminist, so I wonder (as usual) whether it actually belonged.

More than feminism in general, Alt Ed explored bullying and victims thereof. The six main characters (the kids who are 'allowed' to join an impromptu support group instead of being expelled) are all high school kids who are somehow uncomfortable with their roles. We have a jock,
Shelley Dunbar
Mar 22, 2016 Shelley Dunbar rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Alt Ed is the best and most realistic representation of being fat in high school I’ve ever read. Susan is significantly less whinny than most overweight girls in books. She also realizes that she is a big part of her own problem. That she has to change because she wants to, not because that’s what others want from her. She grows and changes throughout the story. In fact all of the characters do. There is not a single flat character in the entire book. Atkins has an amazing ability to create voic ...more
Oct 27, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
I really related to this book a lot. I wasn't bullied in high school (much) but I was the fat girl, and this book exposes some of the thoughts that girls like me face. Bullying is a major problem in high school. I often feel the need to ask my students why they are so mean to one another. They can never give me a straight answer. I think this book shows that teenagers often don't see others as real people with real feelings like themselves. They are stuck in the selfish zone of immaturity and do ...more
Jan 17, 2014 KimberlyRose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as knock-the-breath-out-of-me unforgettable as Atkins' stunning When Jeff Comes Home (read that one years ago and still think about it!), but a solid, real, empathic story--one of the better YA books. I read this one years ago as well, and although I don't remember it as I do her a Jeff book, I do remember enjoying every moment of this girl's journey toward maturity.
3.5 stars

Reviewing this book is a bit challenging, because while it was going on, there was really nothing wrong with it, except for what didn't happen during it. Let me explain.

As I began this book, I was instantly drawn in. I loved Susan, our protagonist, for her sweetness and because she wasn't typecast as the fat funny girl. Call this a modern take on The Breakfast Club, where, instead of detention, these kids have an entire semester of after-school meetings with the counselor because of som
Marta Boksenbaum
Feb 15, 2012 Marta Boksenbaum rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-lit
This novel follows the fairly typical plot of a teenage girl who is insecured and unliked in her high school, and her realization that she is a worthwhile person. Susan Calloway is an overweight teen who’s father is the football coach, and her brother looks away when his friends make snide comments and jokes about her weight. She meets Brendan Slater who is also bullied due to his sexuality, and she encourages him to deface the school bully’s truck which gets them both put into a group counselin ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it
Susan Callaway is a high school girl who is the brunt of bullying and shunning since she is quite a bit overweight. She is accused of helping to damage a person's truck and the school requires her to attend a series of group sessions where students who have violated various rules will try to work out their problems rather than being expelled from the school.

It turns out that the boy whose truck was damaged is himself one of the members of the group. They all have their own problems and their own
Feb 16, 2009 littlemiao rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
[originally posted on my blog] An unlikely group of teens are thrown together by their "alternative education" class – a last chance for students facing expulsion. The six students – the preppy overachiever, the popular jock, the mean redneck, the school slut, the fat girl, and the gay kid – become mirrors for each others’ insecurities and strengths. The bullied confront their bullies, the victims realize their power, and everyone comes out with a fuller understanding of themselves. I don’t mean ...more
Julia H
Sep 10, 2010 Julia H rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2009 Claire rated it liked it
Recommends it for: high school interested in bullying, self confidence, or grief
The story centers around Susan, she is fat, self conscious and an easy target for active and passive bullying from her high school classmates. Compounding this sad situation is her distant father and equally self conscious and suffering brother Tom, neither of whom help Susan face her grief over the death of Susan and Tom's mother.

In the course of a few weeks Susan (tubby), Branden (gay), Kale (loser bully), Randy (easy going jock), Tracee (WWJD Christian), and Amber (sexy), conveniently repres
Apr 07, 2013 Katie rated it liked it
What I like most about this short, pithy YA novel chronicling a fat high schooler's experiences in and out of an alternate education class is that it doesn't resolve nicely. Because, SURPRISE! Neither does real life. Progress is made, as Susan inches toward confronting Kale, who tortures her over her weight, but relationships between high schoolers who hate each other are tenuous. It's unclear whether or not Kale will actually stop bullying and abusing Susan and her friend Brendan, who is gay. A ...more
Synopsis: A group is made at school for kids that have one last chance before they will be kicked out of school, or for doing bad things that they some how got out of getting kicked out of school for. Susan is forced to participate in this group, where she soon becomes friends with the students in the group.

Classification: This book is for an audience of any age but mostly teenagers, girls or boys. This book was wrote more for enjoyment rather than information. The setting of genre is realism.
Oct 23, 2009 Madison rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teenagers
Recommended to Madison by: no person
I did enjoy reading Alt Ed.I can understand why it was banned though. The suggestive content and the uncomfortable language would not be appropriate for any reader under the age of 14. Usually I would pass on a book like this, but Alt Ed was different. It taught morals in a very entertaining ways. Alt Ed is a very powerful book and it had me feeling a different emotion after every chapter.

My favorite character in Alt Ed is Tracey. Tracey has good morals and beliefs. She is the image of the perfe
Apr 18, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
Overall, I like the book. I like the idea that it was based on. However, I did have some problems with it. Rather than learning to accept herself as she is, poor Susan thinks she has to change to gain approval of others. I found Tracee to the most annoying character. I felt she thought she was superior to the others. Not only that, she was a hypocrite. I actually liked Kale and Amber. Kale was like a lot of bullies I've encountered. There really isn't much of a reason behind the bullying other t ...more
May 05, 2011 Mary rated it it was ok
I picked up this book as my continuing work with YA fiction and because I stumbled upon it randomly. I am still a bit conflicted about it a week later, so:

-The self-growth that the protagonist sees. She seems to stop hating herself, and though she is still concerned with others' perceptions of her by the end of the book, I think it'd be unrealistic if she wasn't.
-There should be more books centered around young fat girls.

-The treatment of Amber. There are some implications of rape and th
A bit of a "Breakfast Club" for the current generation. This one is a bit different in that the main character is Susan an overweight girl who's lost her mom to cancer and is now living with her high school football coach father and her middling athlete older brother.

She quickly makes an ally with Brendan, the kid that everyone picks on as being gay. But there's also the girl with the slutty reputation, the bible thumping popular blond, the nice guy athlete with his mysterious reason for being
Dec 23, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult-ita
Susan has always been a target for bullies - especially Kale Krasner - because of her weight. Her father, the football coach, and brother Tom even seem embarrassed by her appearance. So when she sees Brendan Slater vandalizing Krasner's car, she becomes a silent partner in the act and they both end up in Mr. Duffy's counseling group. See, Brendan is a target, too, because he's a homosexual. But what Susan can't figure out is why Randy Callahan, popular jock, and Tracee Ellison, popular religious ...more
Oct 18, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very good.
It reminds me a lot of The Breakfast Club. In this book they are in a class with a teacher because it was either the class or getting kicked out of school.
You get a lot of what The Breakfast Club does, students that would never talk in school get together and the teacher is there but for the most part he is there to keep things civil.
The class only goes for so long but they get to know each other and at the end it was learning how the other students lived that helped t
Taylor Hudler
Jun 01, 2015 Taylor Hudler rated it liked it
Enjoyed reading the book. The plot reminded me of the "Breakfast Club" movie, which I liked. I couldn't let myself give this book more stars based of the problems I had with it. I liked the character development, and finding the back stories of them. But the whole ignoring of gang rapes and other condemnable action in the book just throws me off. No one is reprimanded for their clearly wrong doings. The adults were clueless drones to absorb by their own lives. And the all most all the students a ...more
Apr 03, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
Not for younger readers! I wouldn't want my daughter to read this until she was at least 15 or 16, if at all...but it does bring up some good questions and discussion topics. In the end, I enjoyed it and the characters. Each one had their own problems and faults. It was not so cut and dry...(these are the bad guys, these are the good guys). They all had to accept their own part in their problems and the way others perceived and treated them. It was a good commentary on how you never know what's ...more
May 07, 2012 Johnp rated it liked it
Decent group therapy session that gets into issues with several students.

Susan is the overweight teen who becomes teased/bullied until she lands in an after-school therapy group with a mix of students - including the boy who torments her the most! A good mix of students/views/issues, though I think the casting was a bit stereotypical (a jock, a cute girl, a bully, a clueless girl, etc). There is a twist towards the end that turns this into something a bit more than the standard “I’ve changed” m
Sep 14, 2010 Ann rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, glbtq, 2006
A poorer quality Breakfast Club, right down to the 'heartfelt' letter at the end. Six high school students (popular boy, school thug, slut, christian overachiever, fat chick, gay guy - three female, three male) who would otherwise be expelled meet in a group with the school counselor. Narrated by Susan, the 'fat' daughter of the school's football coach, who has felt ignored and slighted by her father since the death of her mother from cancer years before. As the reasons for their 'incarceration' ...more
Susan is overweight, self-conscious and the butt of jokes. She is caught vandalizing a classmate's truck and ordered to participate in a weekly counseling class. Also in the class is a popular jock, a cheerleader, a gay, a punker and Susan's primary tormentor, Kale. Counselor Mr. Duffy generates discussion to get the kids to know each other and talk about things. Susan develops a friendship with gay Brendan and a tenuous but growing understanding of the others. She also is dealing with her mothe ...more
Apr 07, 2009 Jeremy added it
Have you ever watched the movie, The Breakfast Club. Arguably an instant classic and the sound track amazingly funny(to me). Well if you enjoyed the Breakfast Club as much as I did, then you will love Alt Ed. These five troubled students are required to go to an after school program to prevent being kicked out of school. The novel is centered around Susan's character. The issues that these students face are easy to relate to and are important to issues to realize that our students may be facing. ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awesome, fat
There is something so real about this book; it is still resonating with my now, hours after reading it. I love it, and not only because I am fat and can relate to every single emotion that Susie feels in the book, but also because Susie's voice is very pure. So is Brendan's. And Amber's. I fell in love with the faux Breakfast Club of fuck ups, and it wasn't easy, but it happened. I felt for them all, some a little and some a lot. I believed their stories and that is very important for me as a re ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Devan rated it it was amazing
I thought that this book was really good. It was well written, the diction was very precise and accurate for a high school student. This book didn't exaggerate bullying but it certainly did not sugar coat it. I loved the approach the author took with it, and the idea of really just leaving the kids to work out there own issues with each other, and the counselor acting as a referee of sorts. I read this book all in one go, it's a great read, it's not long, but it certainly leaves you thinking abo ...more
Dec 18, 2007 Kewpie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan is an overweight girl who fears being ridiculed at school. She has no friends and she spends most of her time trying to make herself invisible and being suspicious of anyone who talks to her.. waiting for the "fattie" punchline. Susan is accused of vandalizing her main abuser's truck. She is due to be expelled but is sent to "Alt Ed" instead. She and 5 other kids sit in a room together after school and talk about their feelings and each other. It plays out exactly like a rated PG version o ...more
Apr 17, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it
Alt Ed is about a girl named Susie who is in high school and is overweight. She gets teased or not noticed at all. When Susie almost gets expelled from school she has has a choice to go into this group with other kids who almost got expelled and talk about their problems or be expelled. Susie chooses to go into the group, some people in the group are people who have mad fun of her ever since grade school. The ending to this book is unpredictable. I really enjoyed reading it because it teaches yo ...more
Janine Darragh
Jan 23, 2014 Janine Darragh rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Psych term for hatred/fear of fat people? 1 1 May 30, 2014 06:53PM  
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I am a writer and teacher from Northern California. My books include The File on Angelyn Stark(Knopf), Alt Ed(Putnam) and When Jeff Comes Home(Putnam).
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