F.U.D.G.E.

By Colin Machiavelli (D.A. Boal)

F.U.D.G.E.This book is based on the experiences of a sixteen year old boy who is just about to enter his final year of high school. It is written in first person in the form of a stream of consciousness or personal diary, At the beginning, Pete Armistad, who is often called Petestar, is feeling nervous and anxious about the first day of the new school year. He is worried about grades, teachers and most of all, the fact that he has never had a date or even kissed a girl. The day does not start out well as some eighth grade boys put gum on his seat and he spends the whole day wondering why everyone is snickering at him. Chloe is the girl he currently has a crush on, and his friend Eric is moving in on her. The author uses lots of funny incidents to show the trials and tribulations of the boys and girls in his school. Pete laments, “For a teenage boy to remain happy for more than ten minutes is usually an achievement.”

Pete’s family is also dysfunctional. He tells us that his mother uses cruelty to be kind to him. She is often despondent and has radical mood swings. Pete’s father advises him to ignore his mom when she gets mad because otherwise she will throw and break everything in the house. Most of the time his parents ignore him. Pete points out that they never even bothered to talk to him about sex. Instead they handed him a book. He finally finishes the first week of school when his parents inform him they have decided to take a camping trip for the weekend. Of course he does not want to go. Their car breaks down and they have to take a bus the rest of the way to the campground. He insults an old man and the whole family gets kicked off the bus. The family is forced to walk the rest of the way to the campground. The nightmare continues as he takes a shower in the girl’s shower room and leaves his clothes there by mistake. I think you see where this is going.

There are a few incongruities in the story. The author has teachers bantering back and forth with him and other students in the classroom. Pete’s mother creates a false identity on face book so she can spy on him, and then actually makes a bet that he will not be able to find a date for the prom!  Pete is forced to ask Sylvia, the ugliest girl in the school, to the prom and she winds up beating him up. Yet, the book is still funny; teen boys and girls alike will find many situations with which they can identify. The characters are well defined and the story line is clever. Even though I am far removed from my teen years and the times have definitely changed, I found lots of incidents that brought back memories. What does the title F.U.D.G.E. mean? You’ll have to read the book to the end to find out.