May 6, 2014
The following transcript is a verbatim interview with an educator when he was brought into the Truth Police Headquarters for questioning after sharing a review of Geoff Herbach’s Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders with his students thought to be inconsistent with society’s view of young people. This transcript is respectfully submitted as further evidence that young people are complex, interesting, brave, and not easily defined.
Here’s the truth, Officer Honesty. I can’t believe that’s your real name, by the way. Honest. I was an athlete and a nerd in high school, and by my senior year I was totally comfortable in that role. Yeah, no thanks on the donut, but yes, my friends and teachers played a huge role in my dual nerd/jock development. It took my freshman English teacher nearly a year to indirectly convince me the two identities could coexist and someday thrive. He said something around the lines of, “In five years no one will care what group you were in, but they will remember whether or not you were kind. Be kind and make lots of friends.” I did my best to live this advice out, and now I try to pay it forward to the next generation on a daily basis.
Generalizations about how one defines high school students still dominate the market. In doing so, I often wonder how this impacts a young person’s ability to truly see themselves for who they are and not who society expects them to be. Really? Don’t always believe everything you watch on TV, sir.
Geoff Herbach’s Fat Boy vs The Cheerleaders? What about it? Oh, the review I shared with my students. Yeah Officer Honesty, it was that good, and yes, I love that it takes place in my home state of Minnesota. Huh? Are you saying you think the title of the book points to the very generalizations I stand up against, sir? Officer Honesty, are you judging the book by its cool pop can cover, or have you actually read it? If that’s the case, please let me continue sir, and I’ll explain.
Like I told my students, I like this story on many levels, but most importantly I love that good and evil exist in both the jock|cheerleader camp and well as with the nerd|band kids camp. The cliques and friendships in this book are imperfect. The revenge is both wrongheaded and messy, but individual characters also break expectations and boldly march to their own drum, tuba, cheer, or football scholarship.
I tell my students all the time that each day we craft a personal history and when you add up the days eventually some sort of legacy is born. Life is too short not to look for the good in people, sir.
That’s why I love this book. Gabe, the overweight, pop drinking protagonist, is imperfect, but brave enough to exist outside of the societal boundaries placed upon him. That goes for RC III and a few other characters as this humorous tale develops too, sir. In the end this book is about how kids have the power to bravely stand up for themselves and others. To stand tall in the spotlight of their peers and choose stage left instead of stage right. It makes a difference, sir.
Read the book and then you’ll see.