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Geography Club American first edition
|Genre||Gay teen fiction|
|4 March 2003|
|Pages||226 (trade paperback)|
|Followed by||The Order of the Poison Oak Split Screen: Attack of the Soul Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul Sucking Brain Zombies|
Geography Club is the first book in The Russel Middlebrook Series. The novel follows a group of high school students who feel like outsiders because of their sexual orientations; the narrator, Russel Middlebrook, then finds himself helping to form an after school club for the students, so that they can hang out together without anyone suspecting their secrets.
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Russel Middlebrook is gay and feels isolated and alone from the rest of the people in his high school. His two best friends (Gunnar and Min) are not aware of his sexuality. Russel feels sexual attractions towards many 'jocks' in his school, especially when they are getting changed in gym, and particularly Kevin Land. In the cafeteria, the jocks play a cruel prank on the 'school outcast', Brian Bund, causing Russel to feel sympathetic towards Brian. That night, he is on a gay internet chat room when he speaks to another person from his school who is also gay. They agree to meet up, where Russel finds out Kevin is gay. After a brief period of awkwardness, Russel and Kevin become friends, with their sexuality in common. Russel decides to tell Min, one of his friends. Min then responds by telling him that she is dating Terese, a lesbian, soccer player, and that she is bisexual. Russel decides to organise a meeting in the local pizza shop, with all the gay people in the school. Russel, Min, Therese, Kevin and Ike attend this meeting, where they have a lively discussion. They therefore decide to start up the 'Geography Club' where LGBT students can meet, naming it such in the view that nobody would want to attend 'such a boring club'. The meetings of the club go well.
Later, Russel decides to join the baseball team, mainly to get closer to Kevin. After winning a school game, he becomes a school hero, and friends with all the 'jocks'. However he loses connection with friend Min.
Meanwhile, Gunnar (Russel's friend) persuades him to attend a 'double date' with him. The pair go to the cinema with Kimberley and Trish. However Russel thinks Kimberley is only going out with Gunnar to give Trish a chance to go out with himself. Despite his previous persuasion methods, Gunnar asks Russel to come on another date. This time they go dancing. Trish and Russel go for a drive, with Russel getting increasingly awkward. When they stop the car, Trish tries to have sex with Russel, with Russel turning her down saying that he is a virgin and wants his first time to be special. Trish accepts this, but Russel fears this is not the last he will hear about the issue.
Russel is distressed about this date, and decides to call Kevin when he gets home. They meet up, talk and then kiss, much to the delight of Russel who has been infatuated with Kevin for a long time. It is then suggested that Russel and Kevin engage in sexual activity, though it is never made clear.
Meanwhile, Geography Club sees trouble when Belinda turns up, who actually wants to study Geography. This causes panic in the club, because the rules state they have to let anyone join, so many think it means the end to the club. In a later meeting, Belinda overhears one of the characters saying that it is a gay club. She later informs the group that she also has problems (her mother's alcoholism) and therefore should be allowed in the group. The Geography Club allow her in.
A teacher publishes an article in the school paper, discouraging homophobia. In the article the teacher writes that she spoke to a gay student in the school recently. This causes gossip in the school, with many people trying to find out who the 'gay kid' is. Many think it is Brian Bund. Min therefore wants to let Brian in the club so he has friends. They decide to hold a vote, which Russel feels split on, because if he votes to let Brian in, he would offend Kevin (who is now his boyfriend) but if he votes not to let him in the club, he would offend Min. He votes on Kevin's side, upsetting Min.
Russel experiences an incident when two members of the baseball team bully Brian Bund. Russel joins in, to impress his new friends. However, unknown to Russel, Min witnesses this and gets very angry with him.
On Russel's third and final double date with Trish, Kimberley and Gunnar they go to a beach house, where Kimberley drinks a lot of alcohol. Russel decides he wants to leave, against Gunnar's will. Russel leaves the beach house and calls Kevin who picks him up. In revenge, Gunnar puts in an application for a 'Gay Straight Alliance' club, under Russel's name. This causes the school to believe Russel to be gay. Many members of the baseball team therefore bully him homophobically, with Kevin joining in, in an effort not to lose respect with his friends.
Brian Bund puts the application under his name, reverting the school's attitude back to Brian being the 'gay kid' meaning Russel is out of danger. In a second vote, Russel votes to allow Brian into the club, making him friends with Min once again. Kevin wants to get back together with Russel, now he is popular again. However Russel breaks up with him, saying he wasn't who he thought he was. Russel informs Gunnar of his sexuality, however Gunnar already knew, pointing out that the fact that Russel loved Disney musicals was an indication. Gunnar also apologizes to Russel about what he did. The story ends with Russel abandoning his popularity by becoming friends with Brian Bund, and with the formation of 'Gay Straight Alliance', consisting of Russel, Min, Gunnar, Brian and others.
Huffington Pictures' Geography Club was filmed in June 2012 with Michael Huffington and Anthony Bretti producing, Frederick Levy and Bryan Leder executive producing. Starring Cameron Deane Stewart, Justin Deeley, Andrew Caldwell, Allie Gonino, Meaghan Martin, Ally Maki, Nikki Blonsky, Alex Newell, Grant Harvey, Dexter Darden, Teo Olivares, Marin Hinkle, Ana Gasteyer, and Scott Bakula.
Geography Club was theatrically released in the U.S. by Breaking Glass Pictures on November 15, 2013.
The DVD will be released on March 25, 2014.
- Ponnekanti, Rosemary - Tacoma’s new Festival of Northwest Plays celebrates local talent, The News Tribune (19 February 2008)
- 'Geography Club' Movie: Brent Hartinger Book Adaptation Begins Production. Huffington Post. June 28, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
- Hartinger's official website