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Literature / Fat Kid Rules the World

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Troy Billings is a miserable teenage boy. At only seventeen, he weighs 296 pounds and is constantly gawked at by peers. His mother died of cancer years ago, his little brother hates him, and his father is disappointed in him. Friendless and ostracized, Troy starts to contemplate suicide.

While staring at subway tracks, wondering whether it'd be funny if he was splattered by a on-coming train, Troy meets a ratty-looking fellow his age. Skinny beyond belief and incredibly dirty looking, Troy is surprised to find out that he's met the local music legend Curt MacCrae. No one at their school has heard from him in a year and many think he's dead. As it turns out, he's dropped out and is now living as semi-homeless. Troy is even more surprised when Curt tells him he has to pay for his lunch in debt for saving his life.

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Before the end of the day, Troy is in a punk rock band with Curt. The problem? Troy can't play drums.

Fat Kid Rules the World is a 2003 coming-of-age novel by K. L. Going. In 2012 it received a film adaptation.


Fat Kid Rules the World provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Curt's step-father hates him and repeatedly threatens to kill him (admittedly, because Curt keeps on breaking into his house and stealing his food, but their relationship was bad even before Curt got kicked out).
  • Ambiguous Disorder: There's likely either something physically or mentally ill about Curt, if he isn't on drugs. He's neurotic, jumpy, and has a permanent cough. Curt frequently takes pills but they're either over-the-counter or prescription. He insists he's not a junkie but everyone thinks he is.
  • Big Brother Bully: Inverted. Troy's younger brother Dayle is embarrassed by him and bullies him as a result, when he doesn't just ignore Troy.
  • Big Eater:
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    • It's heavily implied that Troy began overeating after his mother died.
    • Curt is also shown to eat a lot.
  • Domestic Abuse: Curt hates his abusive, wife beater of a step-father. His step-father doesn't like him either.
  • Friendless Background: Curt hasn't had friends since he was in elementary.
  • In-Series Nickname: Curt calls Troy "(Big) T". Being nicknamed is one of the reasons Troy became attached to Curt.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Curt's small-talk interrupts Troy's suicide attempt at the start.
  • Loser Protagonist: Troy's a hormonal, friendless nearly-300 pound 17 year old. He has an element of Unreliable Narrator due to his poor self-esteem, but Troy is still not a popular kid.
  • Mental Health Recovery Arc: Fat Kid Rules the World is about a depressed, friendless obese teenage boy who meets a Kurt Cobain lookalike and joins his band. Over the course of the book Troy opens his horizons and becomes more sociable.
  • Missing Mom: Troy's mother died of cancer when he was in fourth grade.
  • Mistaken for Suicidal: Troy keeps on saying he wasn't really going to jump, he was just thinking about what would happen, but his frequent suicidal ideation brings that into question.
  • Shout-Out: The line "Double-O Fat Kid and Curt Powers" references 007 and Austin Powers.
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