Troy Billings is seventeen years old, lives in NYC, and Fat Kid Rules the World is just one of the hilarious headlines he makes up throughout the story.
Troy also weighs nearly 300 pounds, and everyone stares. Or at least he thinks they do.
He also thinks it might be a good idea to splat himself in the NY subway after seventeen unremarkable years, but he’s not even sure if he’ll get that right. That’s when Curt MacCrae, the only semi-homeless semi-student punk rock artist legend from school cons Troy into buying him lunch. Curt’s so charismatic, he even tries to convince Troy that drumming in seventh grade means he can play in a punk band.
As a drummer who got started playing in high school, of course I was drawn to this book. Just like Troy, I went from playing too softly (“Are those drumsticks or Q-tips?”) to practicing morning to way past sundown, lost in it, hardly believing how many hours had gone by.
Beyond Troy’s cringe-worthy musical journey, both he and Curt have real, live flaws. This always keeps me flipping pages. And they learn a great deal from each other. I loved the moment when Curt practically forces Troy to observe a couple in a diner, beyond just that initial point when they seem so perfect. Beneath the “headline” mentality he’s become so used to. He sees fear spark in their eyes as they eat messy food – ketchup drips, food falls from forks, humanity cracks through that perfect veneer. Turns out they do look stupid every now and then, and even they care how they look.
Ironically, that scene illustrates why YA lit is universal. We all remember that awkward time in our lives when everyone else was just a little more perfect than we were. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that feeling still creeps up on you now, in your older and supposedly wiser years. Thank goodness when that happens, you can laugh it off. Usually.
[Sigh.] Loved it. :)