Russel is a gay kid; for a kid living in a small town he is pretty smart, and even if he has never had any sexual experience, he lives his being gay in the net, attending chats where he is able to talk with other boys his same age and with his same trouble. But an online friend and a real friend are completely different, and it arrives a moment when Russel needs the physical presence of someone… yes, I think it was also arrived the moment when Russel wanted a boyfriend, but more than that he needed to feel he was not alone.
Russel jumps to the chance of meeting another teenager from one of the chats, and he is surprised, and pleased, when he finds out is Kevin, one of the most popular kids at school. But Russel is young, and yes, his best characteristic is that he is real, so no perfect at all; as soon as he finds out about Kevin, he wants to gossip with his friends, and so he talks with Min, his best girlfriend, and to his surprise Min comes out to him as bisexual, and then Min brings on Terese who brings on Ike… and an impromptu club is born.
As I said, no one of the above kids are heroes, and no one wants the burden of being the gay kid at school; they decide to misguide their gay club for a Geography Club, so boring no one will want to join. But after the first session when everyone was able to share their experience, they discover that being gay is not enough of a reason to be together, and their club to survive need to have a reason to be. Again, no much courage among these boys and girls, and surprise surprise, for once the hero of the novel, Russel, is not an hero at all, on the contrary he is actually the one who will behave in the worst way against another kid. That will be the moment for Russel to grow, to realize that being the cool kid and having a cool boyfriend is not actually possible in small town high school; he has to make a choice, and this is probably the most “dramatic” event of all the novel: as you can see, yes, for a 16 years old that can be pretty life changing decision, but it’s not the end of the world.
I liked Russel, in good and bad he was who he was supposed to be: a teenager, with his trouble and his dreams, and with all the life in front of him to realize them.
Amazon: Geography Club (The Russel Middlebrook Series)
Amazon Kindle: Geography Club (The Russel Middlebrook Series)
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 17, 2004)
Brent Hartinger's In the Spotlight post: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/362795.html