Gordon Korman was one of my favorite writers when I was a kid, ever since I picked up a copy of the book he wrote when he was thirteen, This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall (still an awesome book). When I saw Schooled in the store, I grabbed it to see what he's been writing lately.
Well, this book was awesome. It was Awesome.
Capricorn Anderson--known as Cap--lives on a commune with his hippie grandmother. The commune used to be a real community, but that was long before Cap was born. Now it's down to just Cap and his grandmother, Rain. Then Rain breaks her hip and Cap is suddenly thrust into the real world--and middle school.
The story is simple, sweet, and in turns both hilarious and heartbreaking. Cap's utter innocence never feels forced or goofy; the way people react to him feels real. The middle schoolers make him the subject of the traditional school prank of setting up the biggest nerd in school as the eighth grade president. Everyone expects him to wilt under pressure--previous presidents have had nervous breakdowns--but Cap's so clueless that he doesn't even understand he's being pranked. And slowly, without meaning to, he turns everything around.
It's a brilliant story about bullying and belonging. It also happens to be very funny, as all of Korman's books are. By the end (which was perfect), I wanted to stand up and cheer.