Terri's Reviews > Stupid Fast

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
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Feb 05, 2012

it was amazing

I met Geoff Herbach at the American Association of School Librarian's Conference this past October. We have several copies of "Stupid Fast" in our library that are continuously checked out. The cover sells the book, but what I found inside its pages goes above and beyond even a great book cover. We are currently busy planning our summer reading program, a more scaled back version of the program. We are considering doing books by several Minnesota Young Adult writers and limiting the number of students who participate - time and money are consistently an issue. "Stupid Fast" is one of the books we are considering. This is the reason that I finally read the book, which I picked up and had singed by Geoff Herbach at the conference this fall. Wow! RHRR, here we come!

The first criteria for a good book, in my mind, is a book that makes the reader feel something. "Stupid Fast" made me laugh out loud (to my embarrassment, at the gym while on the treadmill), and cry uncontrollable tears at the same time.

The second criteria is characters whom the reader can invest in. Admittedly, I had trouble the first twenty pages or so getting into the rhythm of the first person narration. But I was soon invested in the fast-growing, hormone controlled, hairy, confused, fast, anxious mind and body of Felton Reinstein. Fifteen year old Felton is funny, sometimes not very likable, painfully honest, and trying to figure out who he is. He is emotionally complex and interesting. I really cared about him, though he at times frustrated me. It really gave me insight into the psyche of a teenage boy. And I loved the presence of many good adults in this book - who showed up even as Felton's mother had nothing left to give him. As a sidelight, I appreciated the multi-cultural cast of characters as well.

A compelling, fast-moving plot is another criteria of a good young adult read. In "Stupid Fast" Felton Reinstein faces the summer between his sophomore and junior year without his best friend (who is sent to South America to be with his sick grandmother). He is eating everything in sight, growing and gaining weight so fast that he quickly grows out of his clothes. When, in a physical fitness test, he suddenly blows all of his classmates out of the water, several coaches realize his potential athletic prowess and convince him to come out for both track and football. This changes his relationships with those around him and boosts his confidence. As his social life improves, his home life begins to fall apart when his mother succumbs to mental illness, and the truth of his father's life and eventual suicide come out. I read almost the entire book in one sitting, with time off to drive home from the gym and make some chocolate chip cookies! Once the reader relaxes into the rhythm of the narration, the book moves at a fast clip. All of the complex aspects of this story come together nicely in the end.

A good young adult read will also give the reader a lot to chew on. The thematic content here is literally food for thought: the consequences of being quick to make judgments about others, mental health, brotherhood, friendship, suicide, finding your place in the world, feeling like you are good at something, and the way in which teens are often forced to act like adults in difficult situations are all explored. I kept thinking "Do something!" when Felton seemed to be so unaware of what was going on around him. Then I would think,"He's just a kid. He doesn't own this. This is not his doing." Later, his mother realizes this and tells him the same thing. There is so much here that teens will identify with.

And a really quality Young Adult read often appeals equally to both boys and girls. I think this is true of "Stupid Fast," though the cover will draw mostly boys in (and I am always on the hunt for great books for boys). It will take selling for girls, but there is a lot here that will appeal to a wide variety of readers. There is some mild language here, but it is always used in situations of extreme frustration and almost apologetically. It is actually kind of endearing.

I am really excited at the prospect of working with Geoff Herbach and "Stupid Fast" over the summer and in the fall. Congratulations on a fine first effort!


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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Bridget I started listening to this and hated the CD so much I quit. Now I'll have to get the real book version to read.

Terri Bridget wrote: "I started listening to this and hated the CD so much I quit. Now I'll have to get the real book version to read."

Good to know. I won't recommend the audio book. The book is awesome though. Get past the first few pages though. You have to figure out the rhythm of the narrator's voice.

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