I first heard about Fat Kid Rules the World in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which I love.) His protagonist Junior lists the book as one of his favorites. So when I saw it this weekend I had to buy it. This book didn’t really advocate losing weight, in fact the protagonist gains some more by the end of this book, but it did advocated being worthy of being happy no matter the circumstance and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way. It’s not a preachy book, but it still gets its message across. Sort of like an episode of Oprah. Knowing you are worthy of happiness. . .
I’m a sweating Fat Kid standing just over the yellow line…
Troy Billings is contemplating suicide at the beginning of this novel. At seventeen he is 296 pounds and six-foot-one. He lives his life without any friends and even his younger brother can’t stand him. In fact his brother said he wouldn’t miss him if he died. While he waits for the train to arrive he contemplates whether people would laugh at his death since they laugh at everything he does. He considers the fact that he’d probably mess up his own suicide which morbidly makes him laugh. It’s this laugh that starts a conversation that will change the course of his life. An incredibly skinny homeless guy who is caked with dirt happens to stop his suicide. It turns out this vagrant is Curt MacCrae, a legend at W.T. Watson High School. Everyone respects him despite losing every fight he’s ever been in. He is a genius guitar player and he has just decided that he wants Troy to be his drummer. Yeah, except Troy doesn’t play drums.
This book is raw. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Troy is obese in a way that makes others uncomfortable and Curt lies and steals, not to mention he’s hooked on prescription drugs. These characters are not perfect and both have issues, but despite that I found them likeable. Troy just wants to fit in and Curt just wants a stable home. They can be destructive to themselves, but not to others. Curt ends up teaching Troy lessons like owning up to what he likes, and learning about punk rock. It’s Curt’s confidence in Troy that helps transform him, and Troy’s genuineness that convinces Curt to get help.
You don’t have to be overweight or a guy to get Troy’s voice. Most people battle with self-consciousness and self-worth. Everyone wants to find a niche for themselves. I love that the beginning starts with saving a life and so does the end. This book just has heart. Troy shows growth, and along the way he not only learns to play drums, but converse through them. He’s a fat kid who rules the world.