Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildrenís Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOf Mice and MetaphorsOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development and Parenting: Infants
Child Development and Parenting: Early Childhood

by Brent Hartinger
HarperTempest, 2003
Review by Su Terry on May 14th 2003

Geography Club

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger is a ground breaking coming-of-age novel. It frankly details the struggles of coming to terms (and not coming to terms) with growing up gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual in world filled with homophobia and peer pressure.

Geography Club is set in Goodkind High School. Russel Middlebrook is a sophomore and he is "deep behind enemy lines." Russel is a brainy egghead, a social status he shares with his childhood friends, Gunnar and Min. Russel, however, is also gay, deeply hidden in the closet, and terrified of being "outted". He has good reasons, Rev. Bowd holds a tight rein on the school's conservative sexual policies and daily he observes the cruel pranks and ridicule inflicted by his fellow students on Brian Bund, the school social outcast. One night, Russel stumbles into a local gay chatroom and encounters "GayTeen". He is surprised that there is another gay student in his small town. He is even more surprised when he discovers that GayTeen is another sophomore at Goodkind. The two agree to meet and Russel discovers that GayTeen is none other than Kevin Land, the good-looking star of the baseball team. Kevin is more sexual experienced in the gay lifestyle than Russel but is hiding even deeper in the closet due to his "jock" friends and social status as a star athlete. Still it is not long before Russel and Kevin begin a secret relationship. Bursting with the news of his relationship with Kevin, Russel reveals his sexual orientation to Min only to discover that she is bisexual and has been involved in a long time lesbian relationship with Terese, a star on the girl's soccer team. Min and Terese are also very much "in the closet" about their relationship. The four -- Russel, Kevin, Min, and Terese -- decide to meet for mutual support and are soon joined by Terese's friend Ike, a member of the leftist activist crowd. As a social group they have little in common except the loneliness of their closeted sexuality, but this is more than enough to garner friendship. In order to meet together without undue suspicion, they form the "Geography Club" because "no high school student in their right minds would ever join that."(p.63)† They did not count on bubbly Belinda Sherman who decides to join the club because it would look good on her college applications. Belinda is talkative and definitely not gay, but none the less is hiding in her own secret closet. Everything should have proceeded nicely, even with Belinda, if plot complications did not intervene. Gunnar, Russel's other childhood friend is hot for Kimberly Peterson, but Kim will only date Gunnar if Russel double dates with her friend, Trish. Kim may be popular and beautiful, but she is also nasty, loud, and vindictive. Trish, for her part, is hot for Russel in a most physical way. When a rumor is circulated about a Gay Alliance Club at the school, the members of the Geography Club fear discovery and become suspicious toward each other wondering who in the Club is the snitch.

Geography Club is very well written. It explores the awkwardness, fear, and loneliness of being gay/lesbian/bisexual. It also "outs" the idea that many teens hide in closets, not necessarily due to sexual orientation, in order to try to fit in and avoid the horrendous jokes and pranks by their peers. The story of Brian Bund epitomizes what happens to teenage social outcasts. Brian, however, also epitomizes the inner strengths of character it takes to refuse to sell out and move into a closet. At one point in the novel he is portrayed as a self-sacrificing Christ figure.

Brent Hartinger is an author and playwright. He is the founder of "Oasis" a support group for gay and lesbian young people. Hartinger lives in Washington (state) with his partner. Geography Club is his first novel. His website is http://www.brenthartinger.com

Geography Club is a powerful read. It not only has the unique niche of being a gay/lesbian/bisexual coming of age novel, but it explores the commoner experience of deciding between conformity and hiding in a closet for social acceptance versus individuality and facing social ostracism. This novel should be required reading for high school students. I highly recommend this book. Grade 10 and up

 

© 2003 Su Terry

 

Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.