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Literature / Schooled

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Schooled is a 2007 novel by Gordon Korman

Capricorn "Cap" Anderson has grown up all his life in Garland, a hippie commune that has seen better days. He and his grandmother Rain continue to live a life of tranquility and simplicity, keeping the 60s alive.

At least until Rain breaks her hip while picking plums.

Young Cap is taken from his quiet life in Garland, and goes off to live with a social worker and her bratty daughter.

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Things don't improve for him much in Claverage (nicknamed "C Average") Middle School where his bizarre appearance and customs make him into an outcast among his peers. But despite his circumstances, Cap may turn the school on its ear.

The novel was praised and received a Yong Reader's Choice Award in 2010.

Tropes Are:

  • Arrested for Heroism: Cap is arrested when he takes command of the schoolbus as the driver suffers a heart attack. He is confused because he did the right thing and at the time there wasn't much choice.
  • Badass Adorable: Cap, in part for Turn the Other Cheek and being a Child Prodigy.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Cap's hippie upbringing could be seen as this. Aside from his incredible patience, he is confused by things like banking, permits, and even putting your stuff securely in a locker.
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  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sophie, from her obsession with boys to her resentment of Cap, fits this trope to a T.
  • Break the Cutie: Zach and most of his posse tries to do this to Cap. Subverted in that Cap remains The Pollyana.
  • Broken Pedestal: Rain for Flora, who grew up with no survival skills because of Rain's teachings.
  • Character Development:
    • Cap gradually adapts to school and comes to enjoy his time at "C Average".
    • Sophie starts the story as a bratty Daddy's Girl for her no-show father. Sophie gradually adapts to Cap and grows out of her blind admiration for her father.
    • Hugh starts out as a meek loser, but grows into The Chessmaster over time.
    • Rain herself had completely eschewed modern life but realizes that she wasn't giving Cap any real world experience. She eventually sells the commune and moves in with Sophie.
  • Child Prodigy: At 13, Cap is already a skilled driver, a math genius, and an expert of Tai-Chi.
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  • Cool Old Lady: Rain is this, at least to Cap. Flora, however, thought she was tyrant and resents her for not teaching her about modern life.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Cap to the student body after he rescues a school bus following the driver suffering a heart attack.
  • Eureka Moment: While taking her driving test, Sophie listens to the Beatles song "All You Need Is Love". Remembering that this was the engraving on her bracelet, she pieces together that Cap got her the bracelet.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Hugh turns on Cap once he gains popularity.
  • Heel Realization: Sophie when she realizes Cap bought her the bracelet.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Zach's bullying of Cap is turned back on him when everyone assumes Cap is dead after Darryl gave him a Megaton Punch. Soon he is on the receiving end of spitballs.
    • Principal Kasigi's took a hands-off approach to students, that is to say he ignored the bullying of less popular students. It ends up biting him when Cap is elected student president as part of a cruel prank, and Cap being unaware of the rules of finance, bankrupts the school's activity fund because of his need to be charitable and his own gullibility . After being forced to shut down the school dance, Kisagi realizes he should have paid more attention to his students.
  • Jerkass: Pretty much everybody except Cap, with a special mention to Zach, Sophie, and Hugh.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sophie herself starts showing this side when Cap helps her with driving. Darryl, one of the Jerk Jocks who harassed him feels this way after Cap is injured in a football stunt.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Hugh and Zach mourn Cap's death.. but they know the rumor is bullshit, and only perpetuated it to make themselves look good.
  • Magnetic Hero: Cap averts this, with his odd appearance making him the butt of every joke. Once he saves the bus driver with a stunt, suddenly everybody starts making tie dye shirts and practicing Tai Chi.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-universe, the student body starts to believe that Zach setting up Cap for a Uriah Gambit and appearing to get him killed was this and start treating him as an outcast.
  • Nerves of Steel: Cap's patience makes him incredibly unflappable. He can give Sophie a driving lesson without flipping out over her recklessness, as well as save the bus driver.
  • Never My Fault: Zach. One character literally calls him out on being this type of person. He also blamed Hugh for the bullying he had done, because Hugh wore a pocket protector and had nerdy hobbies.
  • Not So Different: Flora Donnelly is this to Cap. Having grown up in Garland, Donnelly knows what it was like to leave and adjust, and takes in Cap rather than stick him in a random foster home.
  • Only Sane Man: Flora and to a certain extent, Hugh.
  • Perspective Flip: The book is told from the first-person view of Cap and others.
  • Reality Ensues: Hugh's story arc. Being a bully victim does not necessarily make someone empathetic to other kids getting bullied.
  • Rule of Three: Cap is arrested three times for driving underage. Each time marks a significant turning point in the story.
  • Running Gag: A heart-warming one where Cap resolves to learn every student's name.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Zach electing Cap for student president
  • The Stoic: Cap is this, much to Zach's frustration.
  • Student Council President: Averted, maybe even inverted. Zach and his friends only elect Cap to office because it is the tradition to elect the biggest misfit in the school. Interestingly enough, the office does give Cap control over spending for the prom. Once Cap starts gaining popularity, he plays this straighter.
  • Tsundere: Sophie becomes a non-romantic version of this for Cap as he starts growing on her. She at one point mocks his hippie lifestyle, and then kisses him on the cheek. She again calls him "freakazoid" when telling him she is going to live with her.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Zach and his friends are simply unable to get a rise out of Cap.
  • Uriah Gambit: Zach pulls this on Cap, making him dress up in a rival football team's uniform right as the home team comes out to play, which earns Cap a Megaton Punch. This backfires rather horribly since as many people point out, Cap could have been KILLED and it seems that he has died.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: At the end of the story, Flora calls out Rain for not teaching Cap about the real world. Rain initially brushes this off, but eventually realizes that Flora was right.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Sophie's father is rarely around for her. Sophie eventually wises up to her dad being a no show and its how she figures out that her dad didn't give her the bracelet.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Flora describes Cap as this when Kisagi calls her in a fury about Cap having spent the school dance budget on multiple charities and Sophie's bracelet. He has the idealism of the sixties without the cynicism.
  • With Friends Like These...: Hugh is a testament to how being an outcast does not make you a nice guy. Despite Cap being his closest friend, he does nothing to warn him about Zach and his manipulation, just so Hugh can avoid being bullied. And when Cap gains popularity, Cap sets him up to get brutally tackled out of jealousy. He then takes advantage of the rumor of Cap being dead just so he can take advantage of Cap's reputation by claiming to have stood by him.
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