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Fat Kid Rules the World

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  8,106 ratings  ·  725 reviews
Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius, the stuff of which Lower East Side punk rock legends are made. Never
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Speak (first published June 23rd 2003)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,106 ratings  ·  725 reviews

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Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Help me I'm hungry
Recommended to Mariel by: Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves
Confession #1: I found Fat Kid Rules the World from putting in "Matthew Lillard" into goodreads. Somehow, I didn't realize that Lillard read the audio book until after I picked up the printed book for me, myself and I to read (I passed it to my twin to read first. I'm not selfish. She doesn't like to read books I've read first, for some reason).

Useless backstory trivia about me: Lauren has been on a campaign to ruin my reputation for years and years (since the '90s!). She has this idea that I t
Jul 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Skinny people who hate fat people
I absolutely loathed this book. It has a completely unrealistic view of fat kids based solely off of stereotypes. The kid is only 300 lbs. but can barely walk without feeling like dying? And he's described as being pretty tall, so all in all, he wouldn't be that big, fat-wise. Being a big person myself, I found this distasteful and think that K.L. Going should have done a little more field research before making the easily lovable main character one big fat joke.

Update 9/2016: I keep getting
Jan 05, 2008 rated it liked it
i saw this on someone else's goodreads and have been meaning to read it for a while... it's a "young adult" book so it took basically one day to read. i have mixed feelings. i always love books about teenagers coming into punk rock, it's such a liberation story, and one that i relate to - finally having a space to be yourself and not give a fuck and be part of something by embracing your outcast qualities. fuck yeah. i like that this book does not end with the fat kid losing weight, or even thin ...more
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I loved this book (Fat Kid Rules the World). Six-foot-one, 296-pound Troy is just looking for something that we're all searching for - acceptance. When he meets Curt, a mostly homeless punk prodigy who decides that Troy is going to be his drummer (even though Troy hasn't played since the seventh grade), Troy needs to weigh his own feelings of fear and inadequacy against his desire to stop giving a fuck and just go for it.

When he goes to his first punk rock show and completely loses himself in th
Amore Duzenski
Apr 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
I thought originally that this was going to be a good book. I heard so many people say that they thought it made a great read and recommended it to me.

What inspired me to read about this overweight boy is that that I had seen a special Biggest Loser episode. In this episode featured a young man entering his 20's. He was funny, charming, and smart but ultimately saddened because of his loneliness. His appearance seemed to be the major contributor to his low self-esteem. I felt so much compassio

Graydon Panzica
I really like this story. There were problems, obviously, hence the three stars. I liked probably the first half to three-quarters of the novel, except I feel like the narrator said "fat" way too many times. His weight is probably his biggest insecurity, but I'm pretty sure "fat" showed up at least once on every page. My biggest issue really was probably the ending. The resolutions felt really abrupt and rushed. This is such a short book, just over 200 pages, I honestly feel like another 50-100 ...more
Nov 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit, music-reads
Wonderful story about a little Kurt Cobain like boy whose fat friend Troy tries to save him from himself. This is probably the most fat-positive fiction I've ever read for teens, as the story talks about society's reactions to Troy's weight but does not conclude with "and he gets skinny and popular". Instead, he helps a friend, sees the value of his family and finds a new community in punk rock.
Rod Brown
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-real-books
Banned Book Week! Time to read a second banned book. This one was challenged for its language, sexual content and depiction of drug use.

While it is a pretty decent young adult novel, Fat Kid smacks a bit of simplistic After School Special storytelling. Troy is an overweight teen with all sorts of anxieties. A homeless but legendary dropout named Curt from Troy's high school pulls Troy back from suicidal thoughts by befriending him and inviting him to form a punk rock band. But in the end will Tr
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-contemporary
When Troy (a hugely overweight social leper) befriends Curt (a skinny homeless punk guitar genius), they both get much more than they bargained for. Troy's macho brother and ex-Marine father think Curt is just a junkie loser - but as Curt stopped Troy's suicide attempt, Troy can't just forget him. Curt recruits Troy as the new drummer in his punk band - but Troy has never played the drums in his life. When Curt's around, though, almost anything seems possible. An outstanding, heart-warming, funn ...more
Petty Lisbon
Jan 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Any YA book where your favorite character is the parent automatically loses points.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Cana Rensberger for

Troy knows that everyone is watching him. And laughing at him. Of course they are. At seventeen years old and almost 300 pounds, wearing what appears to be the same pair of tan pants daily, every move he makes is laughable. Will he be able to get out of the car? How many burgers will he eat? Even his effort to breathe is laughable as he huffs and puffs his way along.

He worries that he smells. You don’t understand. It’s not that he’s a pig or anyth
Jul 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Possibly one of my all time favorite YA novels.... found my 2008 review and want to spread the word. I got a freshman who hadn't finished a book in 7 months to read this book and come back begging for more like it!

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going - Motherless Troy lives with his ex-marine father and jock brother in New York City. Self-described as 300 pounds, Troy feels friendless and alone and lives in fear of the laughter he feels whenever others look at him. One day, while contemplating
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Troy starts the book out in a suicide attempt. He's saved by Curt, a cool rocker type that Troy would love to be.
They start a band and hang out and throughout most of the book Troy is filled with intense loathing for himself.
He never realises Curt's homeless, has abusive parents and a drug addict.

One of the things I loved most about this book's message is if you get too wrapped up in hating yourself than you avoid seeing that everyone has problems. Troy had issues with his dad but they were not
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Troy is a fat kid so unhappy that he is contemplating throwing himself in front of a subway train, when someone tells him to stop. It's Kurt McCray, guitar legend / high school dropout. For some reason Kurt talks Troy into being his drummer, despite the fact that Troy hasn't played drums since 7th grade. For a while it seems like Kurt has saved Troy's life in more ways than one. But Kurt has some problems of his own...

Partly due to Matthew Lillard's perfect voice for Troy, this was a really enjo
Morgan F
I've attempted to read this novel several times, and I finally finished it. I just don't know what it was about the reading that didn't appeal to me. The plot seemed slow to me, and the writing wasn't anything exciting. I also expected this novel to be about a fat kid and was looking forward to that, since there are so few novels about fat teens that doesn't involve them losing the weight and getting the guy. Unfortunatley, the character Curt stole the show, and I believe this book was more abou ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Tiger Emrich
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel like this is hard for me to write a review on. I think that because I'm not fat so I don't know if I'm judging it fairly. Also, I'm not suicidal and my family loves me. But if anyone is going to try, *strains hand* pick me!!! This book had me so lost, if I'm being honest. There was so much happening. Or maybe because I read too slow and too long... Hmm... Anyways... Troy was lucky Curt was there. I'm just going to say, the diner scenes were weird. That's all the farther I'm going into it. ...more
Bob Ryan
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book and it was pretty good yeah it was weird with all the suicide stuff but it was good. I think it was honestly kinda weird how much this refers to everyday life. Like he really thinks over jumping in front of a train, I first thought wow. I didn't really think I was going to like the book at first I know what that process is like. I didn't give it a full five stars because in my opinion I thought it was a little on the weird side. I really didn't like the start because it started ...more
Sam Mitchell
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I really didn’t enjoy this book. I felt like it was an unrealistic idea of how overweight people feel. It was a book based on joking around about fat people.

However, I have this book a three because it does explore some good ideas and convey an interesting message. It starts off with the main character attempting suicide. This is a big real world issue that we talk about in school all the time. The other thing that I though worked with this book was the message it sent. It showed that everyone
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The word that I think describes Fat Kid rules the world is hope. I believe hope is a good word for this book because hope is something that all of us have and if you lose hope there isn't much else to lose. A line from the book that shows hope is when Ollie said “Great man, this is great, you sound great”. He was clapping for troy and encouraging him making him regain hope again. I give this book a thumbs up for sure. When I first started reading it to when I got done reading the author always d ...more
Great story about body image, fatness, male friendship, addiction, family and the aftermath of grief. I loved how hopeful it was, even while dealing with some pretty devastating subject matter.

TW for contemplations of suicide at a close psychic distance.
Jenna Ginter
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fat Kid Rules the World tells about Troy an overweight teenager that weighs around 300lbs. Troy has self image issues and contemplates suicide at the subway station. While there he notices Curt, a popular student, that befriends Troy. Troy was asked to be Curt's drummer in his band and gains respect from other students due to his new friend. Troy and Curt form a friendship and start to learn new things about one another. The journey of wanting to be accepted helps Troy find a friend, and after p ...more
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog, own, printz-honor
Originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

This book is about Troy. As you might have guessed from the title, Troy is fat. He knows it, he knows the world knows it, he knows the world sees nothing but it, but he doesn't know what to do about it. He spends so much of his time and attention being terrified that everyone is staring at him and his bulk, that every comment, every laugh, smirk or snicker, every look is directed at him that he is paralyzed much of the time in
Sam Mason
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Personal Response/: I thought it was a good book because it is funny and could actually happen in real life. Parts of the book were kind of boring and some confusing, but it is still a good book. It was very interesting reading about how he overcame quitting things and being able to follow through on something and become great at it.

Book Summary/: Troy is the main character and feels ashamed and unworthy of being alive. He was going to kill himself by jumping out in front of a train, but a home
Richie Partington
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
FAT KID RULES THE WORLD by K. L. Going, Penguin Putnam, June 2003, ISBN: 0-399-23990-1

"I'm a sweating fat kid standing on the edge of the subway platform staring at the tracks. I'm seventeen years old, weigh 296 pounds, and I'm six foot one. I have a crew cut, yes a crew cut, sallow skin, and the kind of mouth that puckers when I breathe. I'm wearing a shirt that reads MIAMI BEACH--SPRING BREAK 1997, and huge, bland tan pants--the only kind of pants I own. Eight pairs, all tan."

As this head-ba
Badz (Abandoned Marionette)
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I am a fat kid. Everywhere I go, people’s eyes would turn my way, their gaze following my lumpy shape. I am used to their disgusted stares. I have no friends. Who would ever want to befriend a 300-pound loser? Even my family looks down on me because of my excessive weight. So I guess no one would even bother when I die.

Generally, that was what goes inside Troy Billing’s head most of the time. Being laughed at all the time for being overweight has become too much of a torment. The only thing peop
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and while I was reading it I couldn’t help thinking of students who I thought would too. It is not just a tale of friendship and music; it also tackles other tough issues like homelessness, body image, bullying, drug addiction, dysfunctional families, and abuse. There is some strong language and drug abuse, but this book should be appropriate for older teen readers. Loved it!

My Booktalk:

Troy Billings is a 300 pound screw-up who has had enough. He is tired of being l
Troy's life is utterly miserable. He weights like a baby elephant, he only owns identical beige pants because they are the only ones he's able to fit into, he doesn't have any friends and his younger brother is aggressively embarrassed by him. It's no wonder he's standing there, infront of the subway tracks, about to jump. All he wants is for life to be over already.

Except that doesn't happen. Instead he is distracted by the dirty homeless man next to him on the platform. A dirty homeless man wh
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this because of a teacher's recommendation. I loved my teacher, but I don't see why she loved this book. I have mixed feelings about it. I like that the opening scene was dramatic, with Troy, a lonely and overweight teenager, contemplating suicide on the subway tracks. There was humor scattered throughout the book, which I can appreciate. I also like that this book does not end with the fat kid losing weight, but instead becoming a punk rock drummer and finding something he can channel hi ...more
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
There was a brief article about the author in School Library Journal and we had two of her books in. I chose the one that seemed the least depressing. Our library copy had all the "cuss words" underlined in the beginning by some enthusiast - until there were just too many to bother with, I guess - heh! But this book is about kids in New York City and leaving that out wouldn't be an accurate portrayal of these kids. The NYer in me laughs when Troy takes taxis everywhere. NYC is the walkin'est, pu ...more
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K.L. Going is the award winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, and was included on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list and their list of Best Books for the Past Decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild sele ...more

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“Whats ironic,” he adds, shaking his head, “is that everyone’s so busy trying not to look like they’re looking at you that they’re really not looking at you.”

Wait. So what you’re saying…” I pause. “What you’re saying is…people aren’t really looking at me?”
“I see it out of the corner of my eye as the man moves his fork toward his mouth. He's talking to the woman and he looks like the same pompous asshole I've been watching for the last hour. Truly. The he moves the fork and a piece of pasta falls off. It hits his lip and smears cheese down his perfect, clefted chin. He tries to act cool, but for a split second, like a flash of light, I see what he's hiding.

Curt looks up with his chin still on the table. He's watching me watch them. "You saw it, didn't you?" he breathes.

I shake my head. "No, I didn't see anything really...." I squint.

the woman puts a small amount of egg on her fork, then lifts it tentatively. She's trying to act beautiful, in control. She moves her body sideways, then opens her mouth....

"See?" curt asks drowsy. "You see it?"

I stare, fascinated. Maybe, after all, I do.

Curt nods in answer to the question I haven't asked.

"Finally," he says. "Do you get it now?"

I nod very slowly. The woman takes another bite, and I don't think about her legs anymore. I just watch for the flash. I don't think I will, but I see it again. One minute she looks confident , perfect, the next I see something else. I cringe.

I try watching the man instead, but that's worse. I realize for the first time that he's trying really hard.”
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