Skip to main content

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by





So, I really like Alexandra Robbins, generally speaking. I have read other books by her - The Overachievers most notably - but I was drawn to this book because the premise was a noble one - to promote (at the very least) tolerance of the non-conformists in high school and, at the best, outright acceptance of the non-conformists. Her philosophy is also a noble one - to encourage acculturation and diversity and appreciation of those things instead of encouraging people to act like drones - thinking alike, dressing alike and talking alike. I think that a part of her also wants to stop the rampant bullying that exists everywhere from our schools to our workplaces. And I genuinely appreciate that - that message is an essential one to get out because that bullying sort of mentality exists even among adults in the workplace.

Her basic premise is also an easy one to understand and agree with - she essentially argues that the qualities that make people non conformists and outsiders in high school are the qualities that make those same people the most successful when they become adults, even if they are excluded in high school by their peers. The narrative follows seven outsiders during the course of one year: the popular girl, the new girl, the the band geek, the loner, the gamer, the nerd. It also includes a lesbian teacher. As someone who would classify herself as a nerdy jock, these categories fascinated me as did this book. I spent a lot of lunches in the cafeteria sitting with my friends as they played Magic (sophomore year), walking out to lunch (junior year) or talking about 90210 (7th grade), depending on what was going on. So I was really interested to see what she came up with.

The most touching parts of the book, for me, were the first person narratives of each of the main characters. I felt so particularly sad when I read about how Danielle joined a club in 7th grade, only to find out that it was the "I hate Danielle club," named as something else and, so, whenever she did anything in that club, not only was she stating that she hated herself, but her so called friends made fun of everything that she did. I also felt tremendously sad for the Gamer, Blue, who put his heart and soul into organizing tournaments for his gaming team only to be ousted by not only the other kids, but by the teacher who was acting as the teacher guidance counselor for the club.

The book, I thought, was well done in some regards and left some to be desired in other regards. I really enjoyed how Robbins made the science and sociological information very accessible for her readers. She broke down the research in a manner that anyone could understand. I also think that having first hand accounts of the experiences that the research discusses is a very effective way of demonstrating that the research is accurate to some extent (it also appeals to me on another level - I studied history in college and my most favorite class was an oral history class. I also think that primary sources are the best sources of information when it comes to history/sociological research). What was somewhat disconcerting, and somewhat dizzying, were the many jumps that Robbins took, often presenting us with many, many different experiences from the same character in the same chapter, but often split up over the course of the chapter. In one chapter, you could have stories told by one character, split up by stories told by other characters and the research segments, so it often got confusing and I often had to remember who was who and where they were in their experiences. It also seems like the information reported was reported second hand by Robbins. It's not like she was writing a transcript of a conversation that the interviewee recorded or that she recorded as she was observing the conversation unfold. The conversations and experiences were, it seems, reported to her by the subjects of the study, making me wonder about how much bias was also given to Robbins.

Altogether, though, this was a decent book that I was happy the tI read because it was easy to read, interesting (because I was one of the fringe to some extent) and served a pretty decent purpose.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:


BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

You may recognize the author's name - Krakauer is perhaps most famous for the book Into the Wild about a young man that goes to Alaska (and which was made into a movie).  I enjoyed that book and when I heard on a podcast that I listen to that Krakuer had written a new book, I decided to get it and read it.  In this book, which is non fiction - he focuses on the University of Montana, the local police department and at the local prosecutor's office and analyzes their job performances through the eyes of five young women who were sexually assaulted. During this same period, the Department of Justice investigated how those same parties handled 80 rape cases and that investigation yielded dismaying results. In one instance, a detective re assured a male suspect during an interrogation that she didn't believe he committed a rape (despite evidence to the contrary) because they got a lot of false accusations. Similarly, the Chief of Police (!!!) sent an article to a victim citin…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…