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Alan Cole Is Not a Coward

(Alan Cole #1)

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you’re coming of age—and coming out.

Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And—scariest of all—he can’t let the cute boy across t
...more
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  677 ratings  ·  163 reviews


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Epeeblade
Dec 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
I hated this fucking book.

Alan is a kid being horribly abused by both his father and his brother. The premise of the book is that he has to complete these challenges or else his brother is going to reveal Alan is gay. The older asshole brother tells Alan he deserves to be punished.

He's more like a bad guy in a horror movie like Saw than an older brother.

And what makes it all worse is how the author attempts to come up with reasons for dad and brother to be horrible. The reasons are a way I guess
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Becky
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book defines its hero, Alan, by so many things--what he wants to be, what he's afraid of, and ultimately how he changes during his quest to prove himself. I just set the ARC of this book down (after starting it several hours ago), and I just want to pick it back up again. I laughed. A lot. And smiled. And *maybe* shed a tear or two. But I walked away feeling like I want to be best friends with Alan. And I also want to steal his best friend, the lovely and quirky and stunningly hilarious Zac ...more
Cindy
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was privileged to get a chance to read an ARC of ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD, and a privilege it most definitely was. This book was totally different than I expected, but held so much more depth and heart than I could have imagined. I fell in love with Alan and his tentative, fledgling courage, and with the larger-than-life characters and events that come his way. Bell writes with deft sensitivity, and Alan's evolution from spineless "goldfish" to brave, unflinching hero is the kind that made me ...more
Josiah
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Whatever your opinion of Alan Cole Is Not a Coward, it offered something that was almost nonexistent in 2017: middle-grade literature dealing with same-sex attraction. In 2004 Alex Sanchez released So Hard to Say and in 2005 James Howe came out with Totally Joe, but there weren't many other novels told from the perspective of a main character attracted to other kids of the same gender. Alan Cole, a twelve-year-old seventh-grader, has worse problems than realizing he isn't wired like most boys. ...more
Shira
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review was prepared for and appears in School Library Journal.

All Alan Cole has ever wanted is to blend in. He takes care not to let his cafeteria tablemates, Zack and Madison, become his friends. Alan stays quiet at the dinner table so as not to upset his irascible father, and tries to avoid his brother, Nathan, who relentlessly bullies him. One day Nathan forces Alan to play a round of Cole vs. Cole, in which each brother must attempt to accomplish as many of Nathan's proposed seven assig
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Amanda Searcy
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a phenomenal book--unlike anything else in MG. It's funny and clever and entertaining, but it's also much deeper than that. The author handles some very difficult subjects with aplomb. I also really loved seeing a gay main character in MG. This book has real award potential!
Stacey
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced read copy of ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD. This book is amazing. It's the story of a boy with everything against him. A bully of a father, a mother who doesn't protect him, and a brother who's following in Dad's footsteps. Alan Cole is so terrified of his brother, he can't even have friends.
From the first moment his jerkwad brother grabs him and threatens to spill Alan's most carefully guarded secret, you'll be rooting for this kid. I fell in love with Ala
...more
Brittany
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, kids
This was a little heartbreaking, a little funny and overall full of hope. The family dynamic was painful to read and the excessive bullying could be considered emotional and mental abuse. But Alan rises above. He learns how to swim, overcomes obstacles and ultimately stands up to his brother and father in the biggest possible way.
Laura Gardner
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD by #EricBell
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Wow wow wow. Can’t believe this is a debut novel! This one started a little slow for me, but once I got about 40 pages in I couldn’t put it down. It was at turns hilarious and desperately sad. Alan is a coward in the beginning...with good reason. He is bullied by everyone: his dad, his brother, his classmates. With the help of a couple of amazing, loyal friends, however, he finds the strength to be brav
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Robyn
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved every single word of this book. The sweet, sweet boys of the Unstable Table. The way that even most of the villains veer toward good in the end. The amazing courage that Alan shows and the sad, but realistic portrayal of the consequences. The only thing I didn't love about this book was how short it was because I wanted more time to hang out with these people.
Julie
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-voices, debut
I loved this. Some of the bullying scenes are tough to read, but incredibly poignant and realistic (that's what made them so hard to stomach, I'm sure!) but Alan and his "loser" friends, who are brace, sweet, and laugh out loud funny, will undoubtedly steal your heart.
Amanda Rawson Hill
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great cast of characters and a voice that leaps off the page. You'll want to stand up and cheer when Alan finally finds his courage!
Abby
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While reading the description of the book, my impressions are that I did not think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. The description of the book does not show the readers the childish side of the book and how much people will relate to it. It does however, show the struggle that the main character has through out the book.

My first impressions of the book are that this book will be worth my while reading. The first couple of pages shows how comedic the main character, Alan Cole, really is
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Casey Jo
Mar 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Please do not give this book to queer kids. This book could be damaging. Spoilers ahead possible. I don't care about covering them.

Big brother is a serious bully. And so is Dad - and coming from an adult, that becomes abuse. The entire book is about a forced outing and the big moment is that Alan decides to come out before he can be outed. This is not growth. This is a script for shame and harm.

The crush object says fucked up stuff too, but then when he comes out in this forced way, it's hunky d
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Wendy Greenley
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was honored to read this book as a WIP. The author is amazingly talented, with a long career ahead. This book draws on his personal experiences, nailing middle grade angst and every kid's struggle to be who they are while resonating with humor and heart. Seriously, read this one. Full disclosure - I am one of the author's critique partners.
Jenny Ferguson
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So I don't read much Middle Grade, mostly because I feel so far away from middle school. But Eric Bell took me back, and gave me Alan Cole, a smart, sharp, and brave character to follow. A great, funny, sharp and heart-warming read.
Stephanie
This book and its hero are both delightful. A pitch-perfect coming of age story with a remarkably nuanced supporting cast, and it's unafraid to tackle serious themes without delivering black-and-white answers. Be warned, it will probably make you cry.
Alex
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that I feel like I needed when I was younger, I still loved it now but it would’ve helped and shaped me so much more if it existed in my life earlier.

This book is so sweet and has such a heartwarming journey and everyone should read it.
Mario
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was difficult to read at times, but only because I've never read a book of this caliber that hit so close to home. Loved every page.
Bradley
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A heartfelt, gripping, and laugh-out-loud funny journey about family, friendship, and—above all—finding the courage to be your best self.
Keren Azulay
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it

Alan Cole is Not a Coward is a touching coming of age novel about a boy who is lost. Lost in his feelings, his family, and his relationships. He hasn’t yet figured out who he is and the person he would like to be. This is common for children his age, however his family is far from decent and his one rule of life is to have no friends because if he had friends his brother would hurt them. One day this all changes for Alan. He finds himself in a competition with his brother, a game he was forced t
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Julie
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Alan Cole is Not a Coward by Eric Bell tells the story of a middle schooler, Alan Cole, who learns how to grow up in his dysfunctional, abusive family and how to accept and love himself for, and not in spite of, some of his unaccepted qualities: introverted, artistic, and gay. Alan has a complex relationship with his brother, Nathan, who forces him into challenges called Cole v. Cole, and if Alan loses (he almost always does), Nathan does something bad to him. Nathan promises Alan that this is t ...more
Laura
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Alan is a 12 year old boy with very few friends and a tumultuous home life. The story is centered on a game between Alan and his brother (a game his brother challenges him to) in which they are to complete various difficult and often unattainable tasks. If Alan doesn’t win the game, his brother has threatened to let his secret out. With the help of some new found friends, Alan is determined to prove once and for awhile that he is NOT a coward, and he will stand up for himself. What is Alan’s sec ...more
Jenni Frencham
Bell, Eric. Alan Cole is Not a Coward. Katherine Tegen Books, 2017.

Alan's older brother Nathan torments him constantly, so when Nathan comes up with another CvC (Cole versus Cole), Alan has to agree to go along. Each brother has a list of seven tasks and one week in which to complete them. If Alan doesn't agree to do this, Nathan will tell the whole school that Alan has a crush ... on a boy.

To be honest I really, really didn't like this book at the beginning. The brother is just SO cruel, and f
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Amy
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is what middle grade fiction is supposed to be: heartwarming, funny, raw, engrossing, and oh-so-real. I can't believe I missed this book when it was published, and the only reason I ended up picking it up is because on one of the many "librarian" groups I follow online had a discussion thread dedicated to it. Long story short: old librarian had removed the copy because it was "inappropriate." New librarian was questioning it. With that as a dis ...more
Kifflie
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth-fiction
A great book about learning to stand up for yourself. Alan is bullied by his older brother Nathan -- but it goes much farther than that, as their father is also a bully. Alan is introverted, smart, and artistic, but finds it hard to make friends, except for Madison and Zack, two other misfits who sit with Alan at the Unstable Table during lunch. When Nathan challenges Alan to do seven difficult tasks in the course of only a few days (or risk being outed to the entire school), Alan has to scrambl ...more
Nico
This book blew me away.
I found out about it when researching books to add to the library of my local LGBT group - and I couldn't stop thinking about it! A middle grade book, with such a premise, featuring a gay protagonist? I like staying up to date especially with media geared towards children, as it gives me hope to see stories like these out in the world - stories I had never gotten to see.
And gods, am I glad kids can read this book. And that adults can!
This novel wove an incredible depth es
...more
Camryn
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I really loved this book! I love Alan with all my heart and I also love his friends, Zack and Madison I read this in a day because I couldn’t put it down. The only reason why I didn’t give this five stars is because the father and brother are clearly abusive and I feel like the narrative sort of excuses that.

In vague terms as not to spoil, it’s sort of like “well, they went through these really rough things, so you should give them a bit of a break.” And... that really rubbed me the wrong way.
...more
Aurora Dimitre
Call it a high three.

Overall, this was serviceable, and you've got to give it credit for being a middle grade book with a gay protagonist, which you don't see often, though it's coming to be more common, and I did really like Zack, because he is that character trope that I just. Love. If your book has a really just... weird kid in it, I will love that kid until the end of time, because it never gets old to me.

But that does bring me to my main problem with the book and that is that every charact
...more
Byron Adams
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alan Cole's journey is filled with so much heart! From his, unwanted, competitive relationship with his older brother, Nathan to his tough, complex relationship to his father, Eric Bell makes us fall in love with Alan's world. It is so moving to read book about a young 12 year old who has such an understanding of himself and who he needs/wants to be. I cried so many times reading this text because I could relate to so much of Alan's journey, from being gay, being an artist, feeling isolated to d ...more
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