Kassa's Reviews > Geography Club

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
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's review
Apr 20, 2010

really liked it

Geography Club is a young adult book that doesn’t feature a gay utopia but instead depicts a realistic high school with students that aren’t especially noble or inspiring. These are the types of teenagers that exist in every high school, struggling to get through the minefield of social acceptance and rejection with the added pressure of being different. There is no preaching about accepting differences but the story ends with a note of hope and the idea that high school may be horrible but you’ll get through it. This may not be a high school story you wish happened to you but it also is one that some teenagers may relate to.

The story follows several teenagers as they realize they are not alone and end up trying to form a support group for themselves. They call their club the Geography Club assuming that no one else would join something so incredibly boring. Their plan doesn’t necessarily work that well as someone does want to join and at the same time, a rumor about a gay club circulates and threatens the secrecy of Geography Club. Each teenager must decide for themselves if they want to be honest about their sexuality or not and the choice is not easy for most. In an already hazardous social climate of high school, being gay may be too much to deal with.

GC is incredibly quick to read and fast paced so the story whips along and ends almost before you know it. The teenagers all play on different stereotypes from the male jock to the lesbian field hockey player, the nerdy ones, and the outsiders. Here is a cross section of kids from popular to neutral that have very little in common usually but find the support of other gay teens incredibly helpful. They are not always likable and noble as they are often too mired in their own drama and angst to reach out beyond their group. There is the most hated and teased outsider in the school that even those in the Geography Club don’t want to reach out and help. They often make classic mistakes such as being mean, condescending, and betraying each other out of fear and petty grievances.

What makes the story really shine are that these are depictions of real high school students who don’t always do the right thing. These teenagers don’t necessarily want to come out of the closet and be honest with themselves and others just yet. Perhaps they accept their sexuality to themselves but they want to stay hidden and under the social radar. Others stand up for their beliefs and what is right. Some waffle in the middle and can’t decide which way to go, depending on peer pressure to make their decisions. These are not perfect people but teenagers learning and growing with one more issue to cope with on top of everything. This is the type of story that teenagers can relate to and realize others go through the same difficulties and they’re not alone.

The narrative is first person from Russell’s point of view, a nerdy socially neutral teen that goes through the entire roller coaster of emotion and popularity in his struggle to find his place. The descriptive quality and writing doesn’t try too hard but lets the voice of the teenagers come through very well. The high school exists in no named city or state but is meant to be a high school that could exist anywhere with bland, purposefully vague descriptions that are recognizable by anyone. Although conveying a message to readers, none of the writing is preachy or lecturing but does have a thread of hope and honesty that will appeal to readers.

Although the target audience is likely gay teenagers, the quick pace and very easy reading makes this a good book for anyone to read. The recognizable themes and lack of perfection create a book most can relate to even if you aren’t part of the target audience. If anything it will remind you that no one is alone in their struggles. I can easily recommend Geography Club as a good book to read.
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02/20 marked as: read

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message 2: by Rossy (new) - added it

Rossy Fantastic review, Kassa! I have this one on my list for the next order.

OddModicum Rachel Thank you!!!! I've just discovered Brent's work, and in fact haven't even read this book yet. I wanna say I saw a movie with the same premise, but not 100% sure this is the subject material. But I've been reading all these reviews, and the main rant seems to be that these teens don't behave in the most accountable, intelligent, and responsible way (towards their sexuality and everything else). I just find that ludicrous. Did some of these people GO to high school? Teenagers are confused, hide from every level of responsibility humanly possible, and their primary concern on a daily basis is what others will think of them. That's a ridiculous generalization, but no more ridiculous than expecting these teens struggling with sexuality in a repressed small town to consider that the most responsible action is for them to be honest and come out of the closet. Sheesh. K.. rant over, but thanks so much for taking into consideration the actual thought process and motivations of the average teenager while you're writing a review of a book about teenagers. lol What a revelation. ;)

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