Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
Troy Billings is about to kill himself. At 296 pounds, he's tired of being a joke. Every aspect of his life, the way he looks, moves, even the way he breathes, has become a punchline for his peers. If Troy had his way, Fat Kid Rules the World would be a pretty short read. Thank goodness Curt MacCrea enters the picture.
Curt is the antithesis of Troy. He's emaciated, possibly homeless, and seems to care about nothing other than playing music. He also has the gift of gab, talking Troy out of throwing himself in front of a subway car and then convincing him to play drums in a band.
It doesn't matter that Troy hasn't played in years, or that he is winded after five minutes of moderate activity. None of that matters. In Curt's world of punk rock, attitude beats skill, musicianship, and everything else.
Troy and Curt make an unlikely pair, and Troy must defend his newfound friendship to his father, a no-nonsense, retired Marine, and Troy's brother, who thinks that Troy is the most embarrassing, useless person alive.
As the friendship—and the band—progress, Troy starts learning how to be true to himself rather than worry about what other people are thinking. He is also exactly what Curt needs at that moment, since the skinny rocker is hanging by a thread of prescription pill addiction.
Fat Kid Rules the World is a great guy read. It is funny, angry, and knows to quit while it's ahead. At less than 200 pages, it manages to directly focus on Troy's new friendship and struggling home life without overburdening him or the plot with complicating factors.
I also recommend the audiobook, narrated perfectly by actor Matthew Lillard. He enjoyed the book so much that Lillard adapted it into an entertaining yet somehow slower movie.
Author K.L. Going has a real gift for crafting a believable teenage voice. I suggest King of the Screw-Ups as a next step. Liam is socially and romantically successful, but his popularity is shaping up to be his downfall. As his grades and sobriety spiral downward, Liam is sent to live with his former glam-rocker uncle where he hopes to get back into his father's good graces.
There are few characters who are more charming than Curt MacCrea and probably few who are smellier. Ultimately, Fat Kid Rules the World finds the balance between having heart and letting your freak flag fly. Give it a try!