Thursday, November 19, 2009


Hartinger, Brent. Geography Club. HarperTempest, 2003. 226 p. TR $17.99 ISBN 978-0060012212

SUMMARY: Russell thinks he's the only gay kid at his high school, but finds other closeted teens via chat room and in confiding to his closest friend. They decide they want to meet and so they start a secret gay-straight alliance, under the pseudonym of the Geography Club (boring enough that no one else will want to join). This club eventually fails, but at the end of the book, there is an official Gay-Straight Alliance on the school's horizon.

RISKS: Homosexual characters, descriptions of sexual activity, vulgar language

EVALUATION: Hartinger's clever and symbolic use of geography in his enchanting but gritty novel may not be what young readers catch on to, but the connection is there. The aptly but disguisedly named club is perfectly in line with Russell and his friends' effort to find a place where they can feel safe to be themselves in the shifting and complicated terrain of high school. But even without making this connection, both gay and straight readers will no doubt identify with the difficult process of learning to make one's own path to adulthood.

READER'S ANNOTATION: There's nothing worse than feeling utterly alone in a vast, and crowded world. For Russell and his friends, the Geography Club was not just another way to feel like they had a place on the map, but a secret space where they could express their truest selves.

TOPICS: high school; clubs; sex & sexuality; homosexuality; gay-straight alliances; bullying;

AWARDS: Indiana: Eliot Rosewater Award Nominees, 2008; New Hampshire: Flume Award Nominees, 2007; Tennessee: Volunteer State Book Award Nominees, 2006; ALA Popular Paperbacks, 2005; Texas: Tayshas Reading List, 2005

Ages 14-17

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