Review: Geography Club

Title: Geography Club
Author: Brent Hartinger
Publisher: HarperTempest (imprint of HarperCollins)
Genre: young adult, realistic fiction, queer fiction

I’ve been waiting for years to read this book. I first heard about it in an interview or something in Writer’s Digest, oh, about 4 years ago, and then instantly forgot about it. I rediscovered it about a year ago at Powell’s. Their downtown store has this lovely feature in the Young Adult section: all queer books are labeled with stick-out rainbow tags (originally in honor of Pride month). When I first discovered this fact, I literally ran around grabbing all the marked books, and then had to force myself to put 80% of them back.

I love queer fiction, but I have trouble finding books that I consider really good. Many address the issues, but don’t have the writing skill to back them up. However, most of the queer YA books I’ve read have overcome this, and Geography Club, by Brent Hartiger, is among them.

Being a teenager is never easy. For the characters in Geography Club, however, life is made even harder by this simple truth: they’re club really has nothing to do with geography, it’s just their front for a gay teen support group. It happens almost by accident, but the club quickly becomes a source of strength for all the members.

What the club members eventually realize is that it doesn’t really matter if you’re gay, bi, straight, or anything in between. What matters more is feeling like you belong, and having people you can trust and talk to. This is the real strength of the book, and it will appeal to anyone who’s ever felt out of place. And, let’s face it, what teenager doesn’t at some point feel out of place?

The only downside I found to the book was that it felt too rushed, especially at the beginning. It’s relatively short for a YA novel (at only 226 pages), and could have easily used another fifty to a hundred pages to dwell on the character development a bit more. But, it’s a nice quick read, and the characters are all realistic and avoid obvious stereo-types. Definitely one of the better queer books I’ve read.

About Lucy

If you want to get fancy, Lucy lives in Portland, OR, and has a MA in Writing/Book Publishing, with a focus on Young Adult Literature, and a heaping disregard for literary snobbishness (she was an English Major–she’s seen and spouted her fair share). She works as a social media marketer, and has dabbled in developmental editing as a freelancer.
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