I loved it. Despite being a Technite and having a rivalry with Stuyvesant (which Manhattan Executive Pre-Professional High School is based off) there are loads of similarities between our situation and theirs (Craig Gilner’s) that play off in this book.
The need to be better than average.
This plays especially true in Brooklyn Tech where there are so many APs available and even though they’re only exclusive to some major, we see kids take exams from those APs anyway just because they can and it leaves other kids in the dust. It’s even worse in Stuy because besides APs, theres just this general reputation of everyone in that school being better than everyone and everyone in that school going to the Ivory towers at Harvard, Cornell, etc. while Tech, despite having the “Specialized High School” status has fewer students going to those schools.
90s are not enough
THIS IS PROBABLY WHAT MADE ME IDENTIFY WITH CRAIG THE MOST. In my school due to the weight of AP classes, students often reach a 100+ average. Fuck even our valedictorian has a 107. A 91 in your junior year is not smiled upon especially if you’re taking 3 AP classes. When Craig gets a 93 on his report card, the feeling of inadequacy is something I can relate to.
It’s everywhere in teen life ranging from angst to suicidal. I don’t want to explain my own but Craig’s stems from being inadequate in every sense of the word - his best friend who doesn’t work hard and smoke pot still excels and gets the hot hybrid Asian girl who Craig was in love with. Then theres this feeling of lonesomeness - despite family’s best intentions, they don’t understand and these feelings manifest into something destructive.
Finding his Anchor, finding friends and achieving stability - that’s the teenage dream now right? Craig finds this in his hospital stay and turns back to something he used to enjoy a long time ago. Vizzini’s simplification of such important things is what ties together how we relate to Craig - right now, with tests, college applications, getting along with people we don’t really fucking like at all, our “tentacles” - anchors are what keep us sane and remind us of what makes us happy.
This is probably one of the best books I read this year and I can’t wait to read Be More Chill once college apps are over….