Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, Sourcebooks Fire, 2011, 320 pp, ISBN: 1402256302
Felton Reinstein is fast. Stupid fast.
Unfortunately, his best friend just moved to South America for the summer. And he is sprouting hair all over. And his mom is going crazy. And his brother is a fire pirate.
But Felton is still so fast. And it turns out he can catch a football pretty easily. And a beautiful girl thinks he's funny. So, this summer might not be so bad after all. Or it might be even worse than expected.
Guess what? I did not like this book. For about the first 25 pages or so. I just didn't get it. Felton's odd inner monologue never shuts up, and there is more than a sprinkling of profanity. Plus, Felton isn't shy about going into detail regarding the puberty-propelled changes his body is going through.
But. After those first 25-ish pages, I got hooked on Felton's voice. Author Geoff Herbach created a completely original character in Felton - other characters in the book described him as both "retarded" and "innocent." I wondered if he might have fallen somewhere on the autism spectrum. Really, he defies a label. Seemingly incapable of lying or sugar-coating, no one ever has to wonder what's on Felton's mind.
As Felton began to transform from a bitter, self-conscious social outcast into a self-motivated, "D1 prospect," I realized that I could not put my book down. I finished the entire second half in one sitting because I just had to know how his story turned out.
Perhaps even more captivating than Felton's personal transformation was the unraveling of his family. He father committed suicide when Felton was only 5 years old - and he was the one who found the body. His mother, who is only referred to as "Jerri," sinks into a deep depression at the beginning of the summer, and completely stops caring for either of her sons. As Felton is completely preoccupied with football conditioning and his new girlfriend, his little brother Andrew is forced to fend for himself. And that does not turn out well. Andrew - the "fire pirate" - might have been my favorite character in the entire book. He was the only one who wanted to deal with the reality of their family - and I just wanted to bring him home and feed him.
Geoff Herbach isn't shy about tackling subjects like puberty, mental illness, and realistic teen romance - and he almost always does so with a sense of humor. It's no wonder that this book won the 2011 Cybils Award for YA Fiction.
Stupid Fast should be a go-to recommendation for high school age boys. When recommending this book to younger readers, just be aware that there is more than a little profanity.
"I stopped my scrambling and looked Aleah straight in the eye, and said, 'I like you specifically. A lot. I can't say any more without making a total dipshit of myself, okay?'"