Russel Middlebrook always knew he was gay. What he didn't know was that he wasn't the only gay teen in his school. Growing up in a small town, Russel knew how people - especially his parents - would react if they knew his secret.
Even though he has two good friends - Min, a Chinese-American girl, and Gunnar, a boy from Norway - he still feels incredibly alone, basically locked out of the world.
One day, when Russel is on the Internet in a chat room, he talks to GayTeen. He is surprised to discover GayTeen lives in his town and even goes to his high school. Wanting to find out more, Russel makes a date to meet him.
At the arranged meeting place, Russel finds out that GayTeen is Kevin Land, one of the most popular boys in school and star of the baseball team.
At first, Russel thinks it is only a coincidence that Kevin happens to be there, but he soon realizes it is not a mistake - Kevin really is gay. Kevin is somewhat of a savior for Russel because he is the one who finally helps him realize he isn't the only gay kid in town.
The next day, Russel can't help but tell Min about Kevin's secret, along with his own. Russel is surprised that Min is bisexual and has been going out with a soccer player from their school, Terese.
One night, Russel, Kevin, Min, Terese, and Terese's friend, who is also gay, get together to talk and eat pizza. They can express their emotions without being criticized. They form a club in school and give it the most boring name possible so no one will want to join: the Geography Club. Its sole purpose is for them to get together and share their stories about being gay.
This is a great book that focuses on homosexuality, but is also about simply being different, and that may help teens realize that being different is not a bad thing. What I like most about Geography Club is that Hartinger writes so freely and naturally I felt as if I knew the characters. The words and texture of the novel flow purely and make absolute sense. It is an easy read and left me with a better outlook on life.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.