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Geography Club Paperback – February 17, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 185 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Russel Middlebrook Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up-Russel Middlebrook is a sophomore at Goodkind High School. He has a secret crush on a baseball jock, Kevin Land, and soon discovers that Kevin is also gay. The boys become friendly outside of school and set up the "Geography Club" with three other gay students, one of whom is Russel's closest friend, Min. The club members relish the opportunity to discuss their lives and to relate to one another openly and honestly. Eventually, however, intense peer pressure and insecurity take their toll. Russel's relationship with Kevin ends, but the "Geography Club" becomes the "Goodkind High School Gay-Straight-Bisexual Alliance," and the protagonist gains new insight into himself and his place in the world. Hartinger has written a compelling look at the high school scene and the serious consequences of being "different." The plot never falters. Dialogue flows smoothly and is always completely believable, and the occasional use of profanity adds to the realism of the story. Characterization is excellent, with all of the teens emerging as likable but flawed individuals caught in a situation that few young adults could handle with maturity. This author has something to say here, and his message is potent and effective in its delivery. Many teens, both gay and straight, should find this novel intriguing.
Robert Gray, East Central Regional Library, Cambridge, MN
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. Russel is gay, and he knows he better keep it secret, or he'll be a total outcast in his small-town high school. But then he discovers that there are others like him--including Min, his longtime best friend, and her lesbian lover, as well as gorgeous, popular jock star Kevin. Seven of them form a support group (the "Geography Club" is their cover-up name), and for a short time, life is blissful. Russel has friends with whom he can be himself, and he also makes love with Kevin. Then things fall apart. Russel refuses to have sex with a girl, and word gets out that he's gay. Kevin can't come out, so he and Russel break up. Things are settled a little too neatly in the end, but there's no sermonizing. With honest talk of love and cruelty, friendship and betrayal, it's Russel's realistic, funny, contemporary narrative that makes this first novel special. The dialogue is right on; so is the high-school cafeteria; so is the prejudice. Booktalk this. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (February 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780060012236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060012236
  • ASIN: 0060012234
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a 17 year gay guy from ohio and let me say, this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I felt and feel like I AM the character of Russell in the book, I've gone through so many of the things he has. I even cried after reading the sequel after this one because it made me look at my own situation and how hard it is to be gay and love someone who might never talk to you again if they knew. I feel like this book deserves several awards, it certainly had a touch to me.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is geared toward young adults (high school age), but I feel it's a book all ages can enjoy and benefit from, especially parents who want to better understand their gay son or daughter, and the difficulties they face while in high school.

Russel is convinced he's the only gay student at GoodKind High until his online gay-chat buddy turns out to be another student, Kevin, who is the popular closeted star baseball player of the school. Soon Russel learns his best female friend, Min, and her girlfriend, Therese, and another student called Ike, are also gay. They now have to figure out how they can all get together for talks without drawing attention to themselves. This leads them to form a club called "Geography Club". Is the "Geography Club" the answer to their problems, or will peer pressure, insecurities, unexpected members and other events, take a toll on their developing friendship, and their new club.
Hartinger has written a very realistic, fast-paced story filled with love, hope, humor, and sadness that will touch anyone's heart. These young students are individuals who are mature beyond their years. The author has done a brilliant job in getting his message across by developing characters that are very believable. We need more sensitive, intelligent writing like this that can help all young people deal with being different, especially at a time when there are so many other pressures for them to bear. It's rough to be young in today's world. This is a book I recommend for all. Please don't miss this one!
Joe Hanssen
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Format: Paperback
Russel Middlebrook is a 16 year old high school sophomore hiding a big secret: he's gay. He keeps a low profile because he doesn't want to be treated like the school outcast and scapegoat Brian Bund upon whom all manner of dirty tricks and teenage cruelties are visited. Instead, Russel spends his time with Gunnar and Min, a guy and girl known for their brains, but who are also "occasional visitors to the border region of high school respectability" (p. 6). Russel is not eager to leave that border. Ever.
By a fluke Russel learns that another student is also gay, and he embarks upon that universally heady, intense journey where falling in love seems oh-so-right. He joins the baseball team to be with his boyfriend-even hits a home run-and suddenly he's living in the Land of the Popular. But he also meets some other kids who are gay and lonely. They have an inspiration to start a gay/lesbian support group, but in order to keep out those who would mock and exile them, they call it Geography Club. Unfortunately, the secret does not stay confidential, and the fallout is more than Russel thinks he can bear. Will he choose to take the coward's way out? Or can he stand up to the ignorant people all around?
With a light touch and a sense of humor, Hartinger tells a very serious story, one that is being played out in high schools across the country. With unerring accuracy, he depicts the isolation and fear first of one young man, then of a small group, and he reveals the courage and support it takes for any gay or lesbian high school student to stand up to the crowd. By the end of this novel, I had tears in my eyes. The story is moving, the characters are classic, and the discoveries Russel makes are ones that both high schoolers and adults should all learn. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
In the conservative, oppressive town of Goodkind, Russel Middlebrook faces his biggest fear--publicly coming out--as he slowly discovers there are others at his own school, stubbornly questioning and reconciling with their sexualities, just like he is. In this town and in this decade, gay-straight alliances are unheard of--scorned, even--but upon kindling a brotherhood with the diverse group of people who are so different from him, and yet so similar, he learns that sometimes being yourself, no matter how hard, is more important than any reputation, any sort of acceptance, and any lie he'd be living otherwise.

I was so impressed by this children's LGBT novel both because of the controversial topic it daringly confronts, and by the strength and grace with which it is written. Russel's realistic first-person narrative--one of the pioneering gay narrations in YA fiction--is a pleasure to read and captures the horrors and injustices of the high school social scene penetratingly, but in an appropriate, parent-approved fashion. I loved him as a character as well; he's so awkward, nice, and hilarious in an adorable teenage boy way. We need more gay narrators for YA!

I also adore Russel's best friends, Min and Gunnar, because they aren't portrayed as the typical "he's been my BFFL and always has my back no matter what" crap. They're so flawed--so flavored--and that makes them so, so real.

This book is touching, frightening, and compelling in all the right paces. It accurately conveys the fear of learning to cross and even break the invisible, vicious barriers within the high school social ladder, but not explicitly; it leaves just enough to the imagination, which is why I wholeheartedly recommend it to the younger crowd, too.
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