22 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School by Alexandra Robbins

There’s a LOT of good in this book. A lot. The message is powerful, that being a geek or being different – “cafeteria fringe” as the author calls it – isn’t all bad. Being who you want to be, even if it’s one of the unpopular kids, is what really matters. That later on life, things look much better. Marching to the beat of your own drummer can be fabulous. I get it. I do. I wasn’t exactly Miss Popular in High School myself.

This was a book club selection and I really am sorry that I missed it because I would have loved to hear what everyone thought about it. I think it gave some insight into high school cliques and how kids group themselves. It also gave us a lot of information about bullying and how cruel kids can be. Catty girls and all.

My biggest problem with this book was the characters. From the writing and description, it seems to be true stories, but I felt some of it was too contrived. Some of them felt very real to me but others just felt entirely out of place. I realize that may not seem fair, maybe I’m projecting my own beliefs onto these kids, but it just felt too pat in places. Too perfect. High school is messy and… while it was definitely messy in places, it just wasn’t messy enough. I just felt like too many creative liberties may have been taken.

BUT…

I think the author’s message is an important one and I will definitely be giving this to my children to read. I feel lucky that my kids seem pretty self-assured and don’t seem to care what other kids think of them, but they also aren’t quite to high school yet.. and we all know that that can change. I think one line in the book stuck with me… and that was that parents sometimes project their own high school insecurities onto their children so push them to get into the “right” group and have the “right” friends. I just hope that I remember that the “right” friends for them are the ones that they choose. Whether it’s the preps, the punks, the geeks or the jocks.

Recommended for parents, educators and young adults alike.

Description:
In a smart, entertaining, reassuring book that reads like fiction, Alexandra Robbins manages to cross Gossip Girl with Freaks and Geeks and explain the fascinating psychology and science behind popularity and outcasthood. She reveals that the things that set students apart in high school are the things that help them stand out later in life.

Robbins follows seven real people grappling with the uncertainties of high school social life, including:

The Loner, who has withdrawn from classmates since they persuaded her to unwittingly join her own hate club
The Popular Bitch, a cheerleading captain both seduced by and trapped within her clique’s perceived prestige
The Nerd, whose differences cause students to laugh at him and his mother to needle him for not being “normal”
The New Girl, determined to stay positive as classmates harass her for her mannerisms and target her because of her race
The Gamer, an underachiever in danger of not graduating, despite his intellect and his yearning to connect with other students
The Weird Girl, who battles discrimination and gossipy politics in school but leads a joyous life outside of it
The Band Geek, who is alternately branded too serious and too emo, yet annually runs for class president

In the middle of the year, Robbins surprises her subjects with a secret challenge–experiments that force them to change how classmates see them.

Robbins intertwines these narratives–often triumphant, occasionally heartbreaking, and always captivating–with essays exploring subjects like the secrets of popularity, being excluded doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, why outsiders succeed, how schools make the social scene worse–and how to fix it.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth is not just essential reading for students, teachers, parents, and anyone who deals with teenagers, but for all of us, because at some point in our lives we’ve all been on the outside looking in.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book count for 2013: 44

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