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Summer Reading Day 6: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach. 311 p. (ppb) Sourcebooks Fire/ Sourcebooks Inc., June 1, 2011.

Fifteen-year-old Felton Reinstein narrates  from a sort of PTSD viewpoint. You see, when he was five, he was the one to discover his father's body hanging in the garage. Over the years, he sort of resigned himself to being a dork who talks to himself and who has a hippy freak mom and geeky brother, who is also a piano prodigy. Then, the previous November, puberty hit - with a vengeance. He grew, his voice dropped and he became very fast - stupid fast, in his words. Courted by the football coach and track coach, mentored by the quarterback, he suddenly finds himself sorta popular. He even has a sorta girlfriend. Then his home-life goes to hell in a hand-basket. 

I had read some blog reviews of this YA debut that indicated it was very funny. I didn't think it was particularly funny. I found it incredibly sad and very touching. I wanted to hug Felton and his brother and kept yelling at him to pick up the phone and call someone!  I thought Felton was trying to cope with his life by being sarcastic and funny. He wasn't funny. He was just sad, depressed and way, way out of his depth. He was definitely likable, yet so totally clueless, that I found myself shaking my head in frustration. That is not to say that I did not love this book.

Stupid Fast may appeal to fans of Chris Crutcher, except that Crutcher's protagonists are not this under-confident. It has the sports thing that is going to suck the male readers in; whether they stay to sort out Felton's problems is another matter. I hope so.

I like the cover. My only quibble with it has to do with the hair. Felton speaks often of his "Jew-fro" and this cover boy has no Jew-fro. Felton's sudden growth spurt and sprouting of hair all over his body is an important image in the book that is poorly reflected in the cover. 

All in all, I'm glad I saw it on the blogs or I might have missed this straight to paperback debut. I'm eager to see what my students think come fall.