Thursday, October 7, 2010

SLIS Module 7 - Fat Kid Rules the World

Module 7 - Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going

Going, K.L. Fat Kid Rules the World. G.P Putnam and Sons, 2003. ISBN: 0-399-23990-1

Overweight 17 year old Troy Billings hates himself and his life. He has no friends, thinks his family hates him and is miserable and wants to commit suicide. Instead, his life changes when the legendary Curt MacCrea "saves" Troy's life at the subway station. Curt enlists Troy in his new punk rock band as the drummer. This dramatically changes Troy's life and gives him something to believe in and look forward to in life. Curt, however, has his own problems. He's a dropout and his parents don't care if he lives or dies. Troy isn't sure if he can handle the pressure of being a punk rock drummer, but something in him wants to try anyway.

What I Thought
I love this story! I love Curt and Troy and I enjoy seeing how life changes for the better for both of them. Self-expression is very important in this story. When Troy learns to start expressing himself, his world changes for the better and he gains courage. It's wonderful to watch Troy, who used to be friendless and suicidal change into a person who embraces himself, his size and everything about himself. It's slow, but it starts to happen and I felt that it will continue even after the story ended.

I love Curt's descriptions of art and expression. He's the one that teaches Troy that it doesn't matter what you like: enjoy it no matter what. Shout out who you are. He teaches Troy that we are all mortal, all busy "stuffing our faces." Curt is a lonely person, too, and when he and Troy find each other, there's a beautiful friendship that starts to grow.

Since both Troy and Curt are outsiders, I think that anyone on the outside of the social norm can relate to them. Their growth as people, especially Troy's growth, is fun to watch. Also beautiful, is Troy's reconciliation with his father and brother. When Troy is able to love himself, he can reach out to others.

Outside Reviews
"Overweight and friendless, high school senior Troy Billings is standing on the edge of the  subway tracks contemplating suicide when a dirty and disheveled young man engages him in conversation and prevents him from taking the plunge. He's Curt MacCrae, a legend at Troy's school for being "the  only truly homeless, sometimes student, sometimes dropout, punk rock, artist god among us." For reasons that Troy does not at first understand, Curt invites him to join his band as a drummer, even though Troy has only minimal experience with music. Both characters are strongly defined. Hyperactive and frustratingly enigmatic, iconoclastic Curt has the soul of an artist, as well as a self-destructive streak fed by incessant pill-popping. Troy's obesity is over stated (references to his sweating and huffing-and-puffing seem to appear on every page), but his emotional neediness is palpable and genuinely moving. As the friendship between the boys develops, Troy explores New York's punk music scene (about to give his debut performance, he throws up on the stage; the  audience loves it) and comes to a better understanding of both his brother and (wonderfully portrayed) widowed father. But his emerging sense of self-worth also leads him to make a decision that could destroy his friendship with the increasingly troubled Curt. In this gritty and intense novel--perhaps more of a character study than a plot-driven story--these two disparate and desperate teenagers attempt to save each other and, quite possibly, end up saving themselves as well."

Sieruta, P. (2003). Fat Kid Rules the World. Horn Book Magazine, 79(4), 456. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"Big, fat, miserable, insightful Troy, 17, is contemplating suicide but is saved by Curt, a cadaverous, brilliant, homeless, druggie guitarist and neighborhood punk rock icon. Determined to make Troy his drummer, Curt becomes a sometimes part of Troy's truncated family. Troy's dad, a bitter ex-Marine who cannot fathom his fat son, undergoes subtle growth to become the  pair's unlikely savior. Funny, frightening, gritty, passionate, and real, this is an amazingly textured study of complex personal growth of almost symbiotic characters in crisis."

Hofmann, M. (2005). Fat Kid Rules the World. School Library Journal, 51(11), 59. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

Using this Book in the Library
We are using this book for Teen Read Week 2010 since the theme is "Books With Beat." The book is part of a display and a reading list that includes other YA books that deal with music or poetry.

For Fun:
Watch a home-made book trailer for this story.

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