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Literature / Don't Care High

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In this Gordon Korman novel, Don Carey High School has earned it's nickname "Don't Care High" many times over. The students can barely be bothered to show up for class, the teachers are burnouts or overly temperamental, the sports teams and extracurricular activities are nearly deserted. New student Paul Abrams is stunned by the state of the school. His new friend Sheldon ropes him into a grand scheme to build up isolated loner Mike Otis as a hero of the school, just to get them interested in something. And when the dam breaks, the change is something to remember.


  • All Love Is Unrequited: Paul's crush Daphne is crazy about Mike, who just wants to be left alone.
  • Apathetic Students: Nobody gives a crap at this school. At least to start with...
  • Apathetic Teacher: None of them started out that way but they've sunken into it and except for a few like Mr. Morrison and the sports coach, are a bit unhappy at the students actually taking an initiative and pushing them harder.
  • Because It Amused Me: The reason that Sheldon starts everything is because it amuses him to make a Fake Ultimate Hero for noble but initially unrealistic goals.
  • Character Development: A whole school worth of it as everyone goes from being completely apathetic to passionate and community-minded.
  • Ditzy Genius:
    • A minor student named Dick Oliver scores a 95% on a quiz about William Shakespeare by keeping up with the assigned study materials but someone ends up spending weeks if not months thinking that the English class is a cooking course, and still thinks that even after turning in the assignment.
    • Mike Otis is a recluse who is unperturbed and uncurious about bizarre things like people doing his projects for him, nominating him to be class president, or crediting him with various stuff he has no idea about. But he is a brilliant mechanic who invented a new car model on his own.
      Paul: Mike, do you have any idea how great an achievement it is to make a working car out of nothing?
      Mike: Probably not.
  • The Don: Played for Laughs with Feldstein, who acts like a gangster and runs a monopoly on the schools locker, trades favors (always food) for good ones and can move anyone who seriously crosses him to a bad locker, although his bark is worse than his bite.
  • Dork Horse Candidate: As a gag, Sheldon and Paul select Mike completely at random to nominate as class president... and due to snowballing events he becomes an icon of cool to the entire student body, much to his bewilderment. The hitch of the story is, from beginning to end, Mike is such a nondescript cipher that they never figure out anything at all about him, even after following him home and spying on his family. They even go so far as to break into his confidential records and find literally nothing in it. And at the end of the story Mike simply disappears — "moved to another town" — and his forwarding address is nonexistent as well. A cipher from beginning to end.
  • Evil Uncle: Downplayed with Aunt Nancy, an overbearing and inconsiderate person who (along with her daughters, to a lesser extent) makes her extended family cater to her every ridiculous whim no matter how much it disrupts their lives and has Paul wash the dishes at his own birthday celebration. She only has a minor effect on the plot, though, and never seems consciously aware of how unpleasant she can be (which isn’t helped by Paul’s mother being an Extreme Doormat around her without the slightest hesitation or complaint).
  • Extreme Doormat: Mike has no real idea or interest in what's going on but just rolls with it due to that seeming like the least complicated thing to do.
  • Memetic Badass: Mike, in-universe, due to him getting the credit for every improvement or feat done by either the school itself of Paul and Sheldon.
  • No One Sees the Boss: The Principal has abandoned any effort to exert authority over the school, and the students don't even know his name. He just spends all day in his office, working on PA announcements which emphasize the Sucky School nature of the place and which he reads off like comedy sketches while doing his best to avoid everything else.
  • Noodle Incident: Locker-trading High-School Hustler Feldstein repeatedly mentions two attempts to usurp his racket by Slim Kroy (who gained lots of weight due to Post Stress Over Eating after Feldstein beat him) and a group called the Combo. Feldstein calls the incidents “insurrections” and compares them to his own defeat over previous locker baron Fitzpatrick, but few details about how the struggles went down are given.
  • Recurring Extra: Shopaholic Cindy Schwartz, gum-chewing Rosalie Gladstone, and reckless driver Phil Gonzalez are all classmates of the main characters who appear for a sentence or two every other chapter or so and get caught up in the hype over their new student body President. They don’t greatly affect the plot, but add some color to it despite their limited characterization.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: Shirley, Rose and Lucy LaPaz are triplet sisters who are obsessed with the number three.
  • Sucky School: Downplayed and justified. It's functional, but everyone is so apathetic there's no interest in improving anything. Once people start actually caring, the quality of the school skyrockets.
  • Teens Love Shopping: Cindy Schwartz, who writes an essay about how much she loves shopping at Bloomingdale's for a class topic completely unrelated to that.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Peter Everslieigh loves licorice. Rosalie Gladstone likes chewing gum.
  • Twin Switch: Or rather triplet switch, the LaPaz's sometimes switch classes with each other to do better on tests in subjects where one of them is stronger than the others. They are impressed when Mike (or rather Paul pretending that Mike told him) figures this out.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: The teachers are deeply frustrated with the students being lazy or stupid, but once their actually getting focused and invested in things some of the teachers can't keep up with the sudden burst of enthusiam and want the old apathy back (although others are happy with the change but just find all of the Mike Otis hype too annoying to deal with).