Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Award Winning Wednesday — Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Hello all and welcome to the first Award Winning Wednesday. Jacinda and I decided that throughout the duration of the challenge, each Wednesday we will both post a review of a book that fits the criteria of the challenge. Also, at the bottom of this post is a linky (the same one that can be found on Jacinda's blog!) Feel free to link up any reviews you write throughout the month for the challenge! And remember, each review you write, on any site, provides you will an extra entry in the giveaways!:)

I spent a while trying to decide which book to review for my first Award Winning Wednesday, but finally settled on Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going. Why did I pick this one? Because I read it on Monday. It's my first completed challenge book! A copy of this will also be one of the prizes given away at the end!:)

This book is about Troy. As you might have guessed from the title, Troy is fat. He knows it, he knows the world knows it, he knows the world sees nothing but it, but he doesn't know what to do about it. He spends so much of his time and attention being terrified that everyone is staring at him and his bulk, that every comment, every laugh, smirk or snicker, every look is directed at him that he is paralyzed much of the time in public. His kid brother doesn't help the situation either. After the death of their mother, Troy ate and ate and ate, burying his emotions and pain in food. But Dayle focused his attentions on working out, eating well, and becoming amazingly good at sports. He's embarrassed by Troy and he doesn't even try to hide it. In fact, the story starts with Troy standing on the Subway platform, trying to decide if he really should just jump in front of the F train. Dayle told him to Please, go for it, and at this point, all that's stopping Troy is the fear that people are going to laugh again. He should at least be given some dignity in his suicide.

But, his almost attempted suicide is stopped by an incredibly skinny, incredibly dirty and smelly kid sleeping in the station. Turns out this homeless kid is really Curt MacCrae, a musical legend in his school. And for some reason, Curt not only wants to talk to Troy, but he also wants Troy to be his new drummer. Starstruck and dumbstruck, Troy agrees. Only problem? Troy can't play the drums. That doesn't stop Curt though, and he just barrels through, doing this as he does everything. He wants Troy as his drummer, so he is determined to make it happed. For Curt, the music is the most important thing, possibly the only important thing. Music remains an important element throughout the story. It's through music that Troy finally begins to feel like he is, and could remain, a part of something. But his revelations and experiences are not those of the standard music-themed YA novels.

Watching the developing friendship between these two boys was such an interesting experience for me. Both were such unusual characters. Curt is always starving, always dirty, not totally reliable and completely unpredictable. Troy is such a sad character. He cannot get over his insecurities about his weight, and it consumes his thoughts. Always. But, as he starts spending more time with Curt, he starts to view himself in a new light. Curt helps him realize that everyone isn't staring at him all the time. That his weight might him additional strength and leverage that he could use to defend. That he has worth. That there there are pieces to his personality, to what makes him who he is that are incredible strengths.

I hurt for Troy every time he mentally degraded himself. I was angry every time his brother blew him off, mocked him, or made him feel small. I was frustrated with his dad, who couldn't find the time or the words to reach out to his son, or look and realize that he was hurting. I felt my heart start to life as his dad did start to make more of an effort. I smiled as Curt upended their small, orderly (and miserable) world and started to force the family to view things and themselves in a new light.

This is not a perfect story with a perfectly happy ending. Troy doesn't magically lose 150 pounds, or end up with a stunningly hot girl who sees him for who he is on the inside and starts to prepare for their 3 bedroom house, white picket fence and 2.5 children. His brother doesn't suddenly turn around and say just kidding, you are beyond the coolest person I know. His dad doesn't turn into Wonder-Dad over night, and Curt, who has his own serious set of problems doesn't suddenly end up with the perfect sitcom family, enough to eat and no drug habit. This isn't a story that wraps up the story and ties it up with a pretty little bow. This is a story that is too honest for that, too real. It's a story that contains elements of the happy ending, without cheapening the struggle the characters took to get there. You cheer for the characters at the end, but you do it with the understanding that there is more out there for them to learn. After all, there is always more to learn.

Review Link Up here! Review you Printz and Newbery reviews for extra entries in the giveaways and some extra comment love! Link to your blog, goodreads, or any where else you post reviews!