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Literature / Geography Club

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Geography Club is a Young Adult novel by Brent Hartinger about Russel Middlebrook, his friend Min, and a group of teenagers who start a secret gay support group at their high school. Fearing backlash, they call it the Geography Club, in the hope that no one will join a club so boring. However along the way, Russel realizes what hiding does to his relationships and himself and how maintaining a facade to please others ends up hurting yourself.

This is the first book in The Russel Middlebrook Series. The sequels are The Order of the Poison Oak, Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies,note  and The Elephant Of Surprise.

Adapted for film in 2013. The trailer is here.

Geography Club provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Kevin, who's a star athlete and one of the most popular guys in the school.
  • Accidental Truth: Someone (Kimberly, encouraged by Gunnar) starts a rumor that Russell is gay towards the end of the novel.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: After a rumor spreads that Russel is gay, Russel ends up sitting with Brian at lunch and finds out that he is a pretty funny guy and makes he makes a few light-hearted jokes towards Russel's way.
  • Adaptational Curves: Terese, who's a soccer jock in the novel is played by the curvier and bigger Nikki Blonsky.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Kevin is a baseball player in the book, he became a football player in the film.
  • Alliterative Name: Brian Bund, the school's punching bag.
  • Armored Closet Gay: All the members of the Geography Club to a degree; though Kevin and Terese stand out. Kevin is a jock on the baseball team that cares about being a popular jock and Terese just does not want to be out the closet at all.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Russel's best friend Min, though downplayed and discussed.
  • The Beard: Russel gets a girlfriend, though only because his friend blackmailed him into it.
  • Be Yourself: Russel learns to be himself instead of hiding who he is, or trying to be popular, or trying to be someone he's not just to be close to Kevin.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kevin and Russel break up at the end of the book after Kevin decides he can't give up his popularity and perceived heterosexuality. However, Russel grows tremendously as a person and even befriends Brian Bund and from there, the secret Geography Club turns into a public gay-straight alliance.
  • Bully Magnet: Brian Bund, both the book and movie. He is described as gangly and awkward and is regularly tormented by the jocks. Later, after Russel is seemingly outed at school, Brian takes the steps to submit an application for a gay-straight alliance to take the heat off Russell, showing he's still a stand up guy.
  • Chew Toy: Brian Bund, the school's outcast and bully magnet.
  • Clique Tour: Russell lists off the school cliques at the beginning of the book: the Jocks, the Cheerleaders, the Druggies, The Christians, the Girl Jocks, the Lefty Radicals, the Theater Crowd, Computer Geeks, Orchestra Members, and his group of friends, the Nerdy Intellectuals. Brian Bund is at the bottom.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gunnar, Russel and Min's other friend who is very spacey but sweet.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Poor Gunnar, who desperately wants a girlfriend so much that he lets himself get belittled by Kimberly.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ike reveals to the group he nearly killed himself. He got better, thankfully.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Brian Bund, who does it everyday. Russel too, after he's seemingly outed.
  • Fag Hag: Min, Russel's best friend.
  • Gay Bravado: The first chapter in the locker room between both Russel and Kevin. Hilarious in Hindsight, as both characters were in fact gay.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: Possibly the Trope Codifier, with Russel crushing on Kevin, the handsome baseball jock.
  • Gayngst: Natch. All of the Geography Club have anxiety in regards to their closeted status, with Ike revealing that he once tried to kill himself. None want to be outed and be the unpopular kid.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Kimberly, annoyingly so. On Gunnar's first date with her at the movies, she brings a flask of rum to mix in with her soda.
  • The Heart: Min, who wanted Brian to join the Geography Club after she witnessed two instances of extreme bullying Brian was put through.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: A straight girl actually wants to join the Geography Club, to the group complete and utter surprise.
  • Jerkass: Kimberly, the girl Gunnar is into. She's rude, obnoxious and hinted to have a drinking problem.
  • Jerk Jock: Every other named baseball Jock other than Kevin, though he has his moments. They are Brian's main tormentors.
  • Lesbian Jock: Terese, who is on the soccer team.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Gunnar is off on his own plot with trying to date Kimberly and has no idea about the Geography Club.
  • Lovable Jock: Kevin, Russel's Love Interest, who's on the team and nice and caring to Russel. Unfortunately, he's Lovable up to a point and joins in on the teasing of Brian as well as making homophobic jokes to just to fit in.
  • Race Lift: Issac is white in the book and is described as an "lefty radical", but in the movie, he is played by the African-American Alex Newell in the movie and is played more like a Camp Gay.
  • Straight Gay: All the male gays in the book, Russel, Kevin and Ike. Though Russel has a couple of Camp Gay characteristics, such as his love of animated Disney films.
  • Token Lesbian: Terese. Min might also be considered a token bisexual.
  • Transparent Closet: Terese, despite not wanting to come out, embodies the Butch Lesbian trope. Also, Russel's best friends see through his closeted state.
    "Come on, Russell. Animated Disney musicals?"