Editor’s note: Maria, a librarian at the East Cobb Library, is sharing with us this book review as part of her ongoing series of books pertaining to bullying. This is such an important topic for so many teens and their parents. This week, Maria brings us a review of “Misfits” by James Howe. Have questions for Maria? Contact her at the East Cobb Library at (770) 509-2730.
To say that I LOVED “Misfits” by James Howe would be an understatement. I mean, who hasn’t felt like they didn’t fit in? The “Misfits,” as they call each other, run for school office under the “No Name” party. Their goal is to put an end to name calling. Pretty ambitious, huh? The Misfits know a thing or two about name calling. They make a long list of every cruel name that has ever been thrown at them: Wimp, Greaser, Schizo, Big Mouth, Loser, Fat Boy, Nerd, Freak, Homo, Dweeb, Sissy, Dummy, Ree-tard…just to name a few. Their slogan is “Sticks and Stones may Break our Bones but Names will break our Spirit.” In the book, one of the main characters, Bobby, states: “Another thing I think about names is that they DO hurt. They hurt because we believe them. We think they are telling us something true about ourselves, something other people can see even if we don’t.” If someone calls you a “Loser” enough times, does that become who you are?
Luckily, the Misfits have found a great support system in each other. One of the things I liked this book is that it was hopeful. You could see the characters grow with each chapter, especially Bobby, who thought his life would be nothing special because he was nothing special. So when the Misfits step out of the sidelines and get right in the middle of school politics, no one is more surprised than Bobby. He went from believing he couldn’t do much of anything to finally seeing that he was capable of having goals and dreams. Bobby says it best: “I am about to stop being a get-along kind of guy and turn into somebody who makes a difference.”
So if you want to read a motivating book about how a group of kids who are used to being bullied find a way to fight back and be themselves at the same time, then you have to read this book. Remember, if it’s not at your library, ask the librarian to get it for you from one of our other branches.