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GEOGRAPHY CLUB by Brent Hartinger

GEOGRAPHY CLUB

By Brent Hartinger

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-001221-8
Publisher: HarperCollins

Much to his surprise (and relief), a closeted gay boy in high school discovers that he isn’t the only homosexual teenager in his community. Russel Middlebrook, a sophomore at Goodkind High School, has a secret. Although he hasn’t had physical sex yet, he knows in his heart that he’s gay. News like that is tantamount to dynamite; socially it could blow him out of the “border region of high school respectability” he inhabits and into the land of the ostracized and set upon. Then Russel finds out that classmate Kevin Land, a handsome and popular star athlete, is a clandestine homosexual too. In a necessary but not very plausible plot twist, Russel confesses to his close female friend Min, who in turn admits to having a girlfriend. The teens desperately need to talk about their shared situation, so in an effort to find a safe haven and discourage other kids from coming around, they create the dullest after-school organization they can think of, the Geography Club. The group survives the addition of a straight girl with another kind of secret and Kevin and Russel’s growing attachment, but its undoing comes when Min, knowing that they are only a whisper away from social ostracism themselves, fights to have Brian Bund, the “unquestioned outcast” of Goodkind, join their organization. Hartinger has to jiggle the plot to make it work, Russel’s adventures in heterosexual dating feel forced and the conclusion strains credibility, yet overall the book is provocative, insightful, and in the end comforting. (Fiction. 12+)