So, Gabe Johnson takes over is about a chubby kid of the same name who has two best friends like Ron and Hermoine, Justin and Camille. The difference between him and most book heroes? He's fat. This book was originally called Fat Boy vs. The Cheerleaders. I'm not joking. And it's not just microbes. He's seriously out of shape, drinking so many bottles of this Code Red pop from the pop machine at school that he can be the stamper for the We're Gonna Die Young albums and whoever dares to rerelease them. He's so addicted, he'll steal money from his dad and grandpa, who both don't have much money and whose dad has never ogtten over his wife and Gabe's mom running away out of nowhere to Japan. Anyway, the book opens up with a newspaper saying Gabe was arrested for stealing seventeen dollars and twenty-five cents from the same pop machine and the book is spent with him explaining to his attorney why his actions are justifiable.
Not quite as good as Struck by Lightning which has a very similar smoothness, but it's still charming, funny and thought-provoking enough to be called a companion. That book was about a boy trying to get into a school with an acceptance rate of 13%. Here it's not as big a goal but I think it will relate well with sophomore high schoolers. I often really believed this was written by a fat unhealthy kid who was nicknamed "Chunk." This book raises an interesting question on nicknames. If I was called "Willy" by all my best friends whether I liked it or not and someone came up and called me by my real name, I think I'd welcome that person with open hands. While sometimes slow on the pacing, this book is loaded with conflicts between Gabe's goal and his friendship that makes it hard not to keep reading.
Now, a book like this places the antagonist card in the hands of the principal Mr. Deever and the cheerleaders and it knows that if someone stands in your way or your dreams, they're your adversary. The book also knows that not all dream crushers intentionally crush dreams, but the book doesn't pick up on this too early and stops being a lot of fun. Oh, it certainly doesn't. And I think the main reason I liked it so much was how just like Struck by Lightning, it was hilarious and close enough to real life.