Ever since his mother passed away, Troy has been putting on weight. He can no longer find much that he has in common with his ex-Marine Father, and his sports obsessed younger brother Dayle hates him. Troy is convinced that he is worthless, and all that he is is a joke to other people. Aged seventeen, Troy has decided to kill himself, but he wants to do it with dignity. Whilst he is trying to decide whether people would laugh if a fat kid jumped in front of a train, he is interrupted by a skinny punk boy who turns out to be Curt McRae, a school legend who hasn’t been seen for months. Curt insists that Troy owes him lunch for saving his life, and because he’s the Curt McRae, amazing guitarist and friend of Troy’s favourite band, Troy can’t say no. They embark on a strange friendship when Curt decides that Troy is to be his new drummer, despite the fact Troy hasn’t picked up a drumstick in years.
Fat Kid Rules the World is quite short, with quick chapters that often break mid-scene, which helps to keep the pace fast. The characters are well developed and easy to imagine, particularly Troy, constantly worrying about people noticing his size, and energetic, weird, Curt, and Troy’s unexpectedly brilliant dad. Even those that only appear in a few scenes, Curt’s friends and Troy’s brother Dayle, seem very real.
I did at times wish Troy would hurry up and ask Curt to explain certain things, even though I reminded myself over and over how in awe of Curt Troy would be and that he would be extremely reluctant to break the spell that held them together. I also wished there were some female punk musicians in the story, or even just one, as girls and women were only portrayed as fans in this novel.
I could relate to and understand Troy’s fear that people everywhere are staring at him and laughing, and could really feel his amazement when Curt tells him that actually, people aren’t looking at him. Troy finds in the punk rock scene a place where people don’t judge him, and only care about his talent, and as someone fascinated by subcultures, I liked this very much.
Fat Kid Rules The World did strike me as being a particularly American story. There are some stories that would remain essentially the same no matter where they were set, and I don’t think this is one of them. The culture plays an important role in the book. If Troy and Curt were British, for example, things would have been very different for both of them.
I enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it. The scenario is unlikely but ultimately believable, and so Fat Kid Rules The World stands out, having a particularly original plot, amongst all the other books I have been reading/re-reading for Body Image and Self Perception Month.