Geography Club #1 by Brent Hartinger

Publisher:  Harper Teen
Published:   February 17th 2003

Paperback, 240 pages

 Russel Middlebrook is convinced he’s the only gay kid at Goodkind High School.

Then his online gay chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school’s baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students, too. There’s his best friend Min, who reveals that she is bisexual, and her soccer-playing girlfriend Terese. Then there’s Terese’s politically active friend, Ike.

But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves?

“We just choose a club that’s so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it. We could call it Geography Club!”

Brent Hartinger’s debut novel is a fast-paced, funny, and trenchant portrait of contemporary teenagers who may not learn any actual geography in their latest club, but who learn plenty about the treacherous social terrain of high school and the even more dangerous landscape of the human heart.  

Russel Middlebrook believes that he is the only gay teenager at his High School. However, he finds that a popular baseball player, Kevin, is also gay and there are more than just a few gay teenagers at his High School. In an attempt to share secret struggles and find new friends, they create a school group under the title of The Geography Club. At the same time, Russel helps out his friend by going on a double date with a girl. Believing that this would only be a one time thing, Russel feels pressure by his friend to go on another double date. Russel also joins the school’s baseball team, secretly to be close to Kevin, but finds he is actually quite good and even wins his first game for the team. Soon after Russel’s new found popularity a rumor is spread that he is gay and has started a gay club. Not only is Russel’s popularity in jeopardy, but so are old and new friendships, as well as his secret of being gay.

It was very refreshing to read a novel by a male and the main character is male. This does not seem to be very common to do this in young adult literature. However, this book was very disappointing. I came into this book with high hopes but found the characters to be a bit flat. For example, Russel states that he is struggling as a gay teenager but the conflicting and painful emotion was very absent. It would have been nice to read more about Russel’s feelings and struggles. However, as this is the first book in a series, I will read the next book(s), The Order of the Poison Oak, to see how Hartinger grows as an author, as he himself is a Gay author.

My Rating
The next books in the Geography Club Series: