Geography Club

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Geography Club Book Poster Image
Gay-themed coming-of-age story encourages tolerance.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Could lead to some good discussions about tolerance and discrimination. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for some ideas for discussing this book.

Positive Messages

Likely to make teens think about tolerance and their own responsibility to stand up for their peers -- and themselves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Russel doesn't always act perfectly: He meets someone from a chat room alone at night, and joins in on the bullying of an outcast. But readers will certainly understand his fear of being found out, and his happiness at learning he's not alone -- and appreciate his growing ability to be himself.

Violence

A social outcast is physically humiliated.

Sex

Some kissing, locker room nudity, and sex talk; the narrator admits to looking at gay porn; a girl pressures the protagonist to have sex. A teacher is fired for her stance against abstinence-only education.

Language

Some swearing, including slurs against gay people.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters drink, and one also smokes. The narrator tries chewing tobacco.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this gay-themed coming-of-age story features some strong language, cruel taunting, and other questionable behavior, including the main character's decision to go alone and at night to meet someone he just chatted with online. Russel is pretty much in hiding about his sexuality, but doesn't loathe himself or try to change who he is. In the end, this book will make teens think about tolerance and their own responsibility to stand up for their peers -- and themselves.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKatielulu31 April 9, 2008

maqke them think

Students may actually think about how they treat there peers after reading this book. I found that it was a great story to uncover the truth about the injustice... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJacalynnkay March 2, 2010

Amazing book.

I read this book and thought it was great. Im fourteen and have gay friends, and I think the way the author wrote it was amazing. His personal experience makes... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bykatieisawesome April 7, 2011

love it! but 12 and up fo sho

i love this book! i am 13 and even tho im not gay, its a very good story about bullying, secrecy, and love. its a very good love story. i highly recommend it!

What's the story?

Russel knows he's gay, and when he meets a cute classmate in a gay chat room, he is shocked to learn he isn't the only one at school. Soon, he's discovered a handful of gay students, and they form a support group (they call it the Geography Club so no one will suspect -- or want to join). Things are going well for Russel, who's got new support, and even a new secret boyfriend. But when a teacher gives an interview to the school paper saying that -- by mere coincidence -- a gay kid at the school approached her about starting a group, tensions begin to rise in the club. After the school outcast is incorrectly pinpointed as the gay kid, Russel has to figure out how much he's willing to risk to do the right thing.

Is it any good?

Readers will certainly understand gay Russel's fear of being found out, and his happiness at learning he's not alone. Even with the club, Russel is pretty much in hiding -- a traditional plight for gay characters that many modern protagonists no longer experience -- but readers will appreciate that Russel doesn't loathe himself or try to change who he is.

Some of the writing here strains credibility a bit -- Disney animation-loving Russel at times seems too stereotypical, and his romantic relationship with a popular athlete never feels authentic. But while it may not be the smoothest read, it is a book that will appeal to both straight and gay readers, and is likely to make teens think about tolerance and their own responsibility to stand up for their peers -- and themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sexuality and discrimination. What do you think of people who use the word "gay" to talk about anything bad or lame? Does this happen at your own school?

  • In recent years there have been a lot more books featuring gay characters. Is the same true for other forms of media, like TV, movies, or video games? What do you think of this trend? What impact does this have on our culture?

  • Russel meets someone from a chat room alone at night. Parents may want to use this plot point to discuss Internet safety. See Common Sense Media's tip for middle school kids.

Book details

For kids who love coming-of-age stuff

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