Gabe is having a tough week. Normally the funny kid at the lunch table, he's on edge from trying to kick his soda addiction and ditch his long-standing nickname, "Chunk." So when news breaks that his beloved marching band camp has been cancelled due to lack of funding, he's furious. What makes him even madder? The school's vending machine money—which had previous been collected by the band—is now sponsoring the new cheer squad. The war is ON. And Gabe is leading the charge. No one will be safe from the Geekers' odd brand of wrath: not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly not the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends. Like the saying goes, it isn't over until the fat boy sings...
Fat Boy vs. the CheerleadersFeaturedHot
As with his author's Stupid Fast, the angst of a teen boy is shown in all its glory. Gabe has problems to deal with, and finally realizes there are better ways to do this. His friends come and go. There's romance, the best literary grandpa EVER, and a social agenda that many of us can get solidly behind. (I never said that cheerleaders are the anti-librarians. Never.) This is pitch perfect for the single mindedness that characterizes teens... for thirty seconds, before they move on to the next thing. Or not.
I do VERY much appreciate that the language is cleaned up-- no f-bombs. That said, there are going to be some 6th graders who are scandalized by the frequent use of balls, shit, and other mild profanities. I can deal with that, and the 8th graders will love it. I also thought the supportive language arts teacher (who has excellent advice) was possibly a nice tribute to Mr. Herbach's mother. Will buy two copies right away!
Gabe was very entertaining. I loved how layered he was. Gabe is overweight-- okay really overweight-- and hides behind his insecurities with humor and food. We hear that a lot about girls, but not so much about boys. Why would a boy be insecure? Eating your feelings, what? What male teenager is in tune with that? Gabe certainly isn't until he has an epiphany.
In one single moment he starts to realize what's wrong at his highschool and ultimately in his little world, and he gets mad. From that point on it's a pretty amusing story of finding oneself, breaking molds, learning to accept the harshest of life's lessons, and taking a stand. Gabe does all of these things with biting humor and great insight.
The writing style I did not care for, but I can see it being appealing to younger readers. Fat Boy does not unfold like a traditional story since it's being told "deposition style" to the police. For me, that got annoying because all I could tell of certain character interactions was from Gabe's words and actions. It made me feel like an outsider to the story. However, I stuck with it and kept going because I liked the story that Gabe had to tell.
I'm filing this one away as another good book for teenage boys.