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Literature / I Want to Go Home!

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A 1982 novel by Gordon Korman.
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Mike Webster has been sent to summer camp as a "reward" for his good marks. A month of nothing but sports... It's like torture to the unathletic teenager. Fortunately for Mike, he quickly befriends the only other person in all of Camp Algonkian Island who would rather be somewhere else: a quiet loner named Rudy Miller. Rudy, or simply Miller! to the counselors, is a genius and a natural athlete, but has run into enough trouble at school that, in his own words, "The guidance counselors misguided my parents into guiding me here." Rudy is interested in one camp activity only—plotting to leave camp. Unfortunately, the counselors have other plans.

The book is a humorous take on prison break stories, as Rudy and Mike attempt increasingly elaborate escapes and the counselors enact increasingly desperate measures to keep the two in camp.

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This book provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Rudy. Deconstructed, since everyone pushes him to do things he doesn't care about, and he's bored with winning all the time. His room at home is full of trophies that don't mean anything to him.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: After all of the chaos at the camp, the counselors went charring into the woods after Rudy's escape attempt not noticing that Pierre had already stopped him. They come back having experiences misfortunes like falling into the lake, being spayed by a skunk, and mistaking each other for bears in the woods, and everyone is sore about how much Pierre is laughing about this. At least, until they stop, and think hard about it, and then one by one all of them start laughing to.
  • The Alcatraz: Invoked by Rudy's nickname for the camp, with it being an island he can't get off of. That being said everyone but him seems to like it there.
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  • An Axe to Grind: In his letter home, Rudy claims Chip is a reformed axe murderer who keeps an axe under his pillow.
  • Benevolent Boss: Mr. Warden is a bit clueless, but he just wants everyone to have fun and is pleased whenever he sees them doing so.
  • Brick Joke: The 1000 volleyballs that Rudy ordered for the camp eventually show up..
  • Butt-Monkey: Harold Greene and Chip are the main targets of Rudy's pranks and insults.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The beaver, whose dam ends up causing a flood.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Downplayed, but when Rudy is thinking over all of the things he likes at the end of the book, Chip always falling in the lake is one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rudy is the master of this trope; probably three quarters of his dialog consists of his rapier-sharp wit.
  • Exact Words: Rudy agrees not to try and send himself home while he's acting camp director but quickly clarifies that only applies for that day and he'll keep trying again afterwards.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Rudy's plans to get out of camp naturally fall short most of the time.
  • Friendship Moment: Several. Rudy befriends Mike to the point of including him in everything and also develops some respect for some of the counselors.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rudy is known to frequently stipulate, "If Mike can come too."
    • Pretty impressive that they manage to effortlessly pull this trope off, since they're only at camp together for a month (and the story itself takes place over the course of half that month).
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Miller quickly notes that all the counselors have the same attitude, clothing, and facial expression, and dubs them "clones".
  • It's Probably Nothing: Mr. Warden the camp owner dismisses a letter form Rudy's mom warning what a problem he will be a overblown and throws it away without showing it to the counselors, continuing to remain oblivious of just how much Rudy puts them through over the story. When the head counselor finds out at the end, he resolves not to tell the others due to half-seriously fearing they'll throw Mr. Warden in the lake over this.
  • Loophole Abuse: Mike and Rudy use it to circumvent their promises of not running away.
  • Not So Stoic: Rudy, when he bursts out in uncontrollable laughter after the camp has been flooded.
  • Oh, Crap!: The counselors once they hear the Long List of stuff (relay races, tug of war etc.) Rudy plans to make them do during his day as acting camp director.
  • Only Sane Man: Pierre is the most mellow and recourseful counsellor. He's also the only one who really understands Rudy.
  • Running Gag: Chip falling into the lake, Mr. Warden's speeches, doing bad things to Harold Greene. Camp Algonkian Island is considered one of these for inter-camp sporting events.
    • Don't forget the salute.
  • The Stoic: Rudy. Even in his moments of triumph he's rarely that expressive.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Rudy's younger brother, Jeffrey. (Rudy implies that he's been deliberately corrupting the kid.)
  • Smart People Play Chess: Rudy's talent for winning at everything extends to chess as well.
  • Sore Loser: The counselors tug of war during Rudy's tenure as acting director of the camp causes a mud fight started by the losing team.
  • Summer Campy: The camp is designed to be an interactive experience with all of the usual activities.
  • Victory Is Boring: One of the many reasons Rudy dislikes sports is because he always wins at them. Always.
    • There's also the fact that when he finally has an opportunity to go home, he realizes that it'd be boring and elects to stay at camp, where he continues to make daily escape attempts.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Rudy. It's why he never hides his talent at anything.
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance: Whenever the camp counselors would announce an activity, Rudy would respond with, "I don't (insert activity here)." Chip finally has enough of this and tries to teach Rudy how to swim when they all go to the lake, only for Rudy to swim out against strong currents and pull a drowning boy to safety. Chip explodes at him, asking him why he said he couldn't swim if he obviously could, to which Rudy replies that he said he doesn't swim, not that he can't.

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