In their most broad and most literal terms, John Hughes’ films defined the angst of my–and maybe every other ‘80s teenager’s–high school years. Pretty in Pink (if you thought Andie should’ve picked Duckie Dale, raise your hand!), Sixteen Candles (::sigh:: Jake Ryan), and The Breakfast Club (yes, I would’ve chosen John Bender), each are the consummate definition set to film of what it means to be an outsider, to be different, to be the victim of preconceptions and misconceptions and bullying, and to crush hard on someone you believe is entirely unattainable.
John Goode’s Tales from Foster High series is everything that was so brilliant about these movies, the only difference being that if John Goode had written them, Duckie and Blane would’ve fallen in love; Jake would’ve ended up on that dining room table kissing The Geek over the birthday cake; Andrew Clark, the athlete, would’ve walked into the sunset holding hands with Brian Johnson, the brain.
This series follows Foster, Texas high school seniors, Kyle Stilleno (the brain and maybe a little bit of the basketcase, too) and Brad Greymark, the athlete—the invisible nerd and the popular jock—who fall in love and endure the trials and turmoil of coming-of-age and coming out in a small, conservative north Texas town. Theirs is a story of courage in the face of fear, and of standing up for yourself, your beliefs, and for those who are powerless to stand up for themselves when confronted with bigotry and discrimination within the establishment. They are two boys from very different walks of life who discover that their home lives maybe aren’t so different after all, and who are both attempting to cope with their roles as sons within highly dysfunctional families, as they’ve each built invisible walls around themselves to mask their burdens.
In a relationship where their roles might otherwise be defined by expectation, Kyle and Brad discover that who they are—or who they believed themselves to be—is influenced and transformed by how much they grow to care for and want to protect each other from those who would make them suffer for the sake of their differences. The brain becomes the brawn in their relationship as Kyle, along with his mother, Brad’s parents, and a whole host of others fight the powers-that-be to defend Brad’s right to be treated fairly and equally.
I can’t begin to praise the three novellas in this series enough, beginning with Maybe with a Chance of Certainty, through End of the Beginning, and finally to Raise Your Glass. John Goode has introduced two heroes who are nothing less than wonderful, engaging, and courageous.
The author infuses these books with humor and warmth and angst, perfectly capturing the power of first love and skillfully depicting what it means to fight for and be proud of who you are.
” You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out, is that each one of us is
and an athlete,
and a basketcase,
and a criminal.” – Brian Johnson (The Breakfast Club)
This is a story about labels and breaking free of those definitions.
If you love well written YA, I can’t recommend these books enough.
Click on the covers for buy links to each book.