Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Misfits by James Howe (5/5)

The back says: Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit.

I say: I absolutely love and adore this, and all the more because it was one of those books that I just bought because of the title (ok, also because it was on sale).

This is coming-of-age at its best and the reason why I keep reading YA novels.

To be honest, the misfits are your stereotypical school kids; we have Bobby the shy and overweight boy, Addie the tall, intelligent and very opinionated girl, Joe the effeminate gay, and Razzie the young Elvis/James Dean wannabe. What’s special about these guys, or rather what made me fall in love with them, is their personalities and the way they interact with each other and those around them,

and that wasn’t stereotypical at all.

Together they decide to start a new political party for the student council elections with a platform that bans name calling.

In a way I think that anyone who’s ever been called a name or stood outside of the popular crowd will be able to relate to this in some way – I know I did – and there’s a point at the end (I don’t want to say what it is because that will be too much of a spoiler) where it gets really intense for a while and it actually culminated in me crying.

I’m talking proper I-can’t-see-the-words-because-of-all-these-tears-and-this-is-so-sad-and-so-beautiful-at-the-same-time-and-I-really-hope-nobody’ll-come-in-and-find-me-in-this-state-and-sniff-sniff.

Or something...

This is the first I’ve read by Howe, but I think it’s safe to say that I will pick up more of his work. The plot kept surprising me; just when I thought that it was going to go the way of so many other YA novels it changed direction and kept me interested. More than anything I think I loved this because we were inside of Bobby’s headspace and he had an amazing way with words and this random thought process that went spiraling out of control, but in a genuine and convincing way.

I would hang out with him.

I also loved how they’d meet at a diner after school and Addie would take minutes of their meetings – their conversations were so funny and endearing.

A clear 5/5 and I already know I’ll be re-reading this several times in the future.

Oh, and to this novel also inspired the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) to start an annual No-Name-Calling-Week (that link contains spoilers) which I think is amazing. 


  1. I don't think I've heard of this book before but it sounds really good and like it has a really important message. I'll have to check it out!

  2. Yeah, the message was so well conveyed without being preachy. Usually I find that YA novels about bullying set up the victims as sad and pathetic - but these guys weren't any of the sort. Well, maybe to the outside world, but to themselves and to me they were just awesome. Most of the time.