Stupid Fast
Stupid Fast
Geoff Herbach
ISBN 9781402256301
Sourcebooks Fire, 2011.
4 stars
Keywords: family friendship geoff-herbach jocks popularity romance stupid-fast suicide

Stupid Fast
by Geoff Herbach

In his first book for young adults, Geoff Herbach (The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg) explores with insight, humor and poignancy the transformation of Felton Reinstein during the summer that he turns 16. His mother, Jerri, witnesses the pivotal spring gym class in which he sprints the entire 600-yard dash and outruns the best runners by 150 yards (“stupid fast”). At first, she encourages him. But as he shoots up to more than 6 feet and 168 pounds, and the coaches of Bluffton, Wisc., line up to talk to him, Jerri begins to withdraw.

Herbach perfectly captures the unexpected tradeoffs that come with gaining acceptance in one arena while losing the foothold in one’s foundation. Felton is the one who found his father hanging in the garage when he was five (“This could be a dark tale!” he says. “It’s not”). Jerri won’t talk about the man to Felton or his 13-year-old brother, Andrew. She would rather shut down than open up. Luckily, Felton’s new paper route job puts him in the path of Aleah Jennings, who’s moved in for the summer. Felton’s questions about his mother’s bizarre behavior feed a larger mystery at the center of the novel. If the narrative at times rambles, you will forgive Herbach because it’s so true to Felton’s stream-of-consciousness meanderings. The author grants access to a male teen’s thoughts at his most vulnerable, as he builds tenuous friendships with his weight-lifting companions, and takes Aleah’s hand, “which made me totally dizzy and sort of sweaty.”

Note: This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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