Teen Book Reviews

Northeast Library

Teen Book Reviews

Banned Books Week 2010 is just around the corner (September 25 to October 2). With that in mind, I would like to highlight some of the books that have been controversial in the past year. First, I would like to talk about Geography Club by Brent Hartinger. 

Russel is gay, but in the rocky sea of high school, he dares not come out, despite how alone he feels. When he finally takes a chance and arranges to meet a local gay kid in person that he finds online, he is shocked to discover that the kid is his secret crush and the star player of the school baseball team, Kevin Land. Soon, the two meet other gay kids in their school, and the group is desperate for each other’s companionship but terrified their peers will discover how different they are if they continue to meet. The group forms an after-school club called the “Geography Club” to share their feelings as Russel begins to secretly date Kevin. But forces within and without threaten to tear the Club apart, and Russel must decide; does he do what he knows is right, or does he compromise himself to keep the first relationship with a guy he has ever had?

The author perfectly captures the realities of high school life with Goodkind High School's social strata and Russel’s fears of coming out. If anything, Hartinger tones down the ridicule and humiliation of what a typical high school outcast might face today. His characters move throughout the story, so driven by their fears and emotions that they leap right off the page. Any and every teenager will relate to Russel’s struggles and those of his friends, and teens will appreciate his contemporary voice and the mild profanity that flavors his speech with a dose of realism. This is definitely a light read; it does not tackle other issues involved the contemporary GLBTQ experience like other books in this sub-genre of realistic fiction.  This story focuses on peer interaction, which makes it a great “feel good” entry point to books dealing with this issue.

Geography Club is recommended for readers in their mid- to late teens. Check out this book and other works by Brent Hartinger at Northeast or other branches of the DC Public Library today.

--by Brandon Digwood