Fat Kid Rules the World

Fat Kid Rules the World

4.5 67
by K. L. Going
     
 

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A Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius, the stuff of which Lower East Side punk rock legends are made. Never mind that Troy

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Overview

A Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius, the stuff of which Lower East Side punk rock legends are made. Never mind that Troy’s dad thinks Curt’s a drug addict and Troy’s brother thinks Troy’s the biggest (literally) loser in Manhattan. Soon, Curt’s recruited Troy as his new drummer—even though Troy can’t play the drums. Together, Curt and Troy will change the world of punk, and Troy’s own life, forever.

"Troy's voice is candid, irreverent, realistic and humorous. [A] wonderful, engrossing tale."—SLJ

An ALA BBYA

BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

A Booklist Editors' Choice

An SLJ Best Book of the Year

Miami Herald Best Book of the Year

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Troy's voice is candid, irreverent, realistic and humorous. [A] wonderful, engrossing tale."—SLJ
Publishers Weekly
A fish out of water, 6'1", 300-pound Troy is on the verge of suicide-at least he believes he is-when he is inexplicably rescued by a homeless boy/legendary local punk rock musician. In PW's words, this is "a savvy and fast-paced debut." Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Take a suicidal, three-hundred-pound misfit, whose sardonic sense of humor constantly supplies his imagination with headlines beginning FAT KID..., and inject him with hope in the form of Curt, an oddly charismatic "white piece of twine" who is addicted to prescription cold medicine and NyQuil(r). Troy, a.k.a. Big T, has never imagined himself as a fat kid drummer boy for any band, but Curt convinces him that they can become the next Smack Metal Puppets. Even before his mother died, Troy never felt as if he belonged, but now, Curt's drug-induced energy and personality push Big T into the limelight-whether he likes it or not. Curt, by completely ignoring Troy's negative image of himself, forces Troy to realize that there is more to life than his own misery. Suddenly, in a wild reversal of roles, FAT KID CARES becomes the headline most important to Troy. This book gives readers a wild ride through the mind and heart of a seventeen-year-old who contemplates suicide by imagining what his fat would look like splattered by a subway train. Going's edgy and realistic characterization of Troy and Curt will resonate with readers who themselves are struggling with image, depression, and drug abuse issues. Anyone who works with teenagers will recognize Curt and Troy immediately and come away from this book with a new understanding of what each person does in the name of self-protection. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Putnam's, 177p,
— Lynn Evarts
Children's Literature
The main reason that 300-pound Troy Billings doesn't commit suicide by jumping in front of a New York subway train is that he is afraid people will think it's funny: "Would it be funny if the Fat Kid got splattered by a subway train? Is that funny?" But he is also interrupted by a chance conversation with another lost teen: Curt MacCrae, homeless high-school dropout, druggie, and punk-rock legend. When Curt invites—cajoles, pressures, forces—Troy to become the drummer in his not-yet-formed rock band, Rage/Tectonic, overlooking the slight detail that Troy can't play the drums, Troy's life begins to change, and Curt's does, too. Troy's retired-marine-officer dad and sneering, hostile jock brother are at first dismissive, then grudgingly impressed, and for the first time in his life, Troy is impressed with himself, too. But in the end he is going to have to risk everything to save Curt as Curt once saved him. Troy's edgy present-tense narration is punctuated by hilarious and poignant imagined headlines: "FAT KID HALLUCINATING ABOUT COOL FRIEND;" "EXULTANT FAT KID REJOICES;" "FAT KID WITH A PLAN." Going creates a completely credible picture of the New York punk-rock scene and makes us believe in Troy's bumpy journey toward becoming both a rock-band drummer and a true friend; in the process she identifies herself as one of the most promising new voices in YA fiction. 2003, G. P. Putnam,
— Claudia Mills
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Actor Matthew Lillard (Scooby Doo, Scream) is briefly accompanied by punk rock music as he reads K. L. Going's novel with expression, enthusiasm, and emotion (Putnam, 2003). Lillard narrates clearly and fluidly, changing his voice for each character and making each role convincing. Troy, a 17-year-old 298 pound "Fat Kid," is considering suicide, but can't think of an approach that won't be funny to those who stifle giggles when they see him carry out everyday tasks. Deep in thought, Troy doesn't notice Curt watching him. Curt interrupts and claims that Troy owes him lunch in exchange for saving his life. Going named Curt after Kurt Cobain, an appropriate namesake for this troubled, genius guitar player determined to form a punk rock band. Curt is convinced Troy is the ideal drummer-except that Troy can't play the drums. These imperfect, but lovable and sometimes funny characters, developed through off-the-wall, powerful descriptions, create a realistic picture of the teen punk music world. Through some difficult life lessons, Curt inspires Troy to see himself differently. Ultimately, though, Troy finds his own path to self-confidence by reaching beyond himself to the needs of others, especially Curt. The poignant relationship is reminiscent of Holes, Of Mice and Men, and Freak the Mighty. The few female characters are portrayed as sexual objects, except for Troy's mother who died of cancer, and Curt's mother who wants nothing to do with him. Sexual references, negative portrayals of adults for most of the novel, and excessive use of expletives, especially the "f word," make this novel most appropriate for individual listening.-Kariana Cullen Gonzales, Lincoln Consolidated High School, Ypsilanti, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142402085
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
11/18/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
148,037
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile:
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Skinny Punk Genius Saves Fat Kid

"Lucky for you I was at that station," Curt says as he watches me eat. "I mean, since I saved your life and all." His eyes track each bite I take, but when I offer him my fries he won't take any.

"I wasn't going to jump," I say, holding a french fry in the air. I'm lying, but only halfway.

Curt scoffs.

"Were," he says as if there's no argument. "I was watching you for, like, an hour. That rude, twirpy kid left, then three trains passed and you never looked up from the tracks. Then the insane laughter and I knew you'd lost it. I said to myself, Curt, you save this kid's life and he will surely buy you lunch."

"I wasn't going to jump," I say again with my best resolute look. I was just thinking. Just thinking."

Curt considers this at length.

"How come?" he finally asks.

I want to give him the you-moron look the kids at school have perfected. Maybe say something sarcastic like, "Use your imagination." I want to say, "Open your eyes. I'm a fucking three-hundred-pound teenager living in the most unforgiving city on earth. I'm ugly and dumb and I make stupid noises when I breathe. I annoy and bewilder my only living parent, mortify my little brother, and have no friends."

I shrug.

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