There is a lot that can be said about Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club. It is a quick read and I think that my students could work through the book even if they find themselves uncomfortable with the topic. I would encourage all of my students to read this book because it illuminates the isolation that some students feel simply for being themselves. Many students are bullied for being different and fear being bullied so much that they are not willing to share their differences with others. I can completely understand why students would seek refuge in a club where they can be free to express themselves as they are — not who they pretend to be. I wish Russel would have seen Kevin for the type of person that he was and would have held more closely to his own friendship with Min. He got it right in the end I guess but it seemed a little high school drama-ish to me.
This book would be great to help students to understand that everyone is different. Whether they are a different in size, shape, color, or sexuality every student should be free to express themselves without fear of being rejected by the popular kids. Yet, every generation/year/class there are distinct cliques where students cannot even look at others without repercussion from the alpha group. For the lack of a Geography Club and a Russel Middlebrook, my students should read Geography Club to understand that differences should be celebrated rather than feared. Everyone should fight for the right to be themselves, not a poster-child of what others want them to be. I would hope that my students would be able to see that even the kids that everyone may feel do not belong, like Brian, have a unique part of them where they are similar in one way or another to everyone. And, that it is people like Brian that have the most courage of anyone in the school.
Last year I got to witness two students come together despite there vast differences in popularity because they shared a passion for the card game Yugi-Oh!