Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders is one of those cases of me picking up a book based solely on its title. I defy you to pass that title in your local bookstore or library and not, at the very least, be curious.
When Gabe discovers that the proceeds from the school’s vending machine have been redirected from the band program to a new cheerleader dance squad, he sees red. And not the Mountain Dew Code Red that he’d been purchasing from the machine with his hard earned, part-time job money at a local doughnut store. With passion and zeal, Gabe throws himself into figuring out how this has happened and what he can do about it.
Starting with giving up his beloved soda, Gabe embarks on a campaign to find what happened to the band’s funding and what, if anything, he can do to get it back. Over the course of the novel, Gabe alienates school administration, his father and some of his older friends while learning a bit more about how to make his voice heard, gaining new friends (and possibly a girlfriend) and the value of getting to work on time.
From the beginning, we know that Gabe has gone too far since the story is told from Gabe’s side of the conversation with his lawyer.
This is my first time reading a novel by Geoff Herbach and I can say it likely won’t be my last. Gabe’s story is funny and compelling, helped a great deal by Gabe’s asides and comments on the events unfolding. Gabe’s zeal in getting the band program reinstated, all while trying to make better choices only to be thwarted by himself time and again makes for a poignant portrayal. Sometimes Gabe doesn’t realize he’s gone to far until it’s too late and the book wisely allows us to see that Gabe faces consequences to his actions, even if they prove to be successful.
While the book is self contained, I can’t help but feel like I’d enjoy another book with Gabe, if only to see how things develop from here. Can he maintain the new workout regiment and diet that he and his grandfather are doing? Can he continue to work on his relationship with his dad? And what about the new friends he gains over the course of this book?