The Misfits

Author: James Howe
Reading Range: 5.2 (AR Finder)
Interest Range: 4-8 (AR Finder)
Plot: Addie, Bobbie, Joe, and Skeezie are the popular targets of bullies at their school. They have been friends for a very long time and they call themselves the “Gang of Five” even through there is only four of them. Addie is the most outspoken member of their group. She often gets into arguments with their teacher, Ms. Wyman. When the student government election come up, she wants to run a third-party called “The Freedom Party.” She picks DuShawn to be their president because he is  and his people have been oppressed. He is one of the most popular kids at school. He ends up dropping out of their group but before he does he tells them that he thinks they are the ones who are the most picked on. Plus, they are not allowed to run their third-party unless they have a platform. Bobbie has an idea that instead of being “The Freedom Party” they should be the no name calling party. They start a secret poster campaign with the names they have been called. Their platform is accepted but then they have to get elected.
Review: This book is for anyone who is an outsider. The “Gang of Five” are outsiders in their school for different reasons. Addie is an outsider because she is smart tall. Bobbie is an outsider because he is overweight and he sees too much. Joe is an outsider because he is gay and has no problem with being gay. Skeezie is an outsider because it seems like he stepped out of a James Dean movie. They accept each other and their quirks. One of my favorite side stories from this book is about Bobbie’s boss. His mother has just died and Bobbie’s mother had been died for a number of years. They start to bond over that and find they have something in common. I would recommend this book even through I know that the subject manner would make some people uncomfortable. In fact, this book has made a few people uncomfortable.
Additional Info:
This book uses language some parents might find objectionable. It also contains a scene where a character has comes out. I did some research and this book has been banned and challenged in a number of schools. I just read a story where a teacher was using the book in class to teach but she had to stop using it because a parent complained. I thought it would be because of the issue of homosexuality in tweens.
Main Characters:
Addie-Addie would be considered the brains of the group. She is very passionate about issues and expresses her mind. This has gotten her in trouble a number of times.
Bobbie-Bobbie is the narrator of this story. His mother has died and he lives with his father. He has a job selling ties which he is very good at.
Joe-Joe is very expressive having no problem with his sexuality. He feels he does not fit in.
Skeezie-Skeezie is a greaser. He is one of the most unusual characters in the book. He does what he feels is right.
DuShawn-DuShawn is one of the most popular students at school. He likes Addie but she does not know.
Colin-Joe and Addie both have a crush on him. He is another popular student.
Ms. Wyman-Ms. Wyman is their history teacher. Addie and her often fight over issues.
Mr. Kiley-Mr. Kiley is the principal of the school.

Theme: Coming of age, Dangers of ignorance, Desire to escape, Empowerment, Names – power and significance

Bibliographic Info:

Howe, J. (2001) The Misfits. New York, NY: Aladdin Fiction

Tagline:  

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit.

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