Book Review: Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Title: Fat Kid Rules the World

Author: K.L. Going

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 214

Rating: B-

Recommended?: Yes

I’ve tried to read this book several times over the years and even though it’s really short, I just had trouble getting into it. Now that I read it all the way through, I’m glad I decided to finish it but I didn’t like it nearly as much as King of the Screwups. Fat Kid Rules the World opens with Troy, a obese teenage outcast, preparing to jump in front of a subway train.

He’s interrupted/’rescued’ by a grungy drug addict named Curt McCrae and Curt gets Troy involved with his punk rock band. Troy played the drums a little bit in the past but he’s sure he can’t be anything more than a loser fat kid. Curt, somewhat selfishly, pulls Troy into his crazy lifestyle and changes his life. One thing that immediately struck me about this book is how completely Troy defines himself by his weight.

I guess a lot of people do that. I’m also fat but I define myself more by my mental illness. I’ve been doing better lately by my past behavior marks me in my own mind as being ‘crazy’ and irrational. Whatever I do that label hangs over my head. That said, it was a little bit annoying how Troy went on about how fat he was constantly, and his weight was mentioned every few sentences.

I understood it in a way, but it was also frustrating. I liked the ambiguity of Curt and Troy’s friendship and how unexpectedly cool Troy’s ex-military tough guy dad was. Curt was rude, pushy, and intrusive but he brought something out in Troy he never saw in himself. I really had a problem with Troy’s brother Dayle.

At the beginning he tells Troy that no one will miss him if he kills himself but later on the author seems to suggest that Troy‘s the one who needs to apologize to Dayle for being self-absorbed after their mother’s death. Fuck that. I had no sympathy for Dayle after the way he treated his brother when he was suffering from severe depression.

The ending left the characters’ fates very open, which was realistic but also felt very abrupt. I think other people would probably like this book much more than I did, especially actual teenagers (I’m 27) and people who really like punk rock. Punk rock culture is not my scene at all, but I still enjoyed Troy’s journey to a sort-of sense of empowerment. The message that life often sucks but can get better is a good one for teens.

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