I listened to this audiobook a few months ago, but I decided to wait and review it during LGBT Pride Month. It’s not because the entire story was about one particular LGBT character or centered around a specific LGBT problem, though, because it wasn’t. The story actually revolved around a group of self-proclaimed misfits and their attempt to stop bullying in their school. Joe, nevertheless, was identified as being gay and other characters recalled that Joe used to wear dresses sometimes. I really appreciated the way Joe’s sexual identification and history of cross-dressing were treated as more of a side note to explain why some people bullied him and but that his story didn’t overshadow or make light of the other forms of bullying at their school. This was a story in which a variety of students were bullied for a variety of reasons, all of which were wrong.
Everything started back when Addie refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance; she was adamant about the fact that there wasn’t “liberty and justice for all” and, on principle, refused to say the pledge anymore. Even though her teacher didn’t quite seem to understand where she was coming from, her friends, the misfits, thought she was on to something. They were tired of being made fun of and mistreated, and they were fairly certain that nothing would improve unless they did something about it — so they decided to go about affecting that change by creating a third party in the student council elections. The book did get a little didactic at times, but I think many tween and teen readers will appreciate Addie’s brand of idealism and the fact that working together actually made a difference in their school. Fortunately, many schools are making an effort to teach character education and to promote an environment free from hatred and bullying… but it’s still out there. Sadly, I’m all too certain there will always be kids who can relate to this story.