When the dance team purloins the band’s funding, a fat boy fights back.
Gabe, so fat that even his friends and teachers call him Chunk, has two joys: playing in the school band, his sole source of self-worth, and soda from the vending machine that funds the band. Both joys are stolen from him. A sudden, drastic price increase makes his pop habit unaffordable, and the money that should have been funding summer band camp has been diverted to a new dance team for the cheerleaders. Tired of being a joke and pushover, Gabe fights back, organizing a campaign to save band camp. The animosity between band geeks and jocks quickly escalates, unjustly threatening band’s existence, leading to a vending-machine heist. Coming into his own as a leader, Gabe also deals with emotional pain, and his former-bodybuilder grandfather coaches his physical improvement. The narration is Gabe’s account of the theft, recorded by his lawyer, and this concept fumbles in execution, as Gabe constantly addresses his lawyer, hindering readers’ immersion in the story. Nevertheless, the funny, profane text embraces the idea that nobody is perfect—Gabe himself is a jerk, and his discovery of his own jerkiness prevents him from being a one-note victim and provides delightful organic growth. The funding-feud storyline wraps up too easily, but Gabe’s character growth will satisfy any appetite.
A funny popcorn read with more fiber than empty calories. (Fiction. 13-17)