“Schooled” by Gordan Korman, published in 2007
Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie. But when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a school counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.
If you asked me who my favourite author is, I would scramble for hours looking through my bookshelves and wracking my brain trying to pick the author that best represents my book loves. (Just to finally conclude that a favourite author is not possible, no way, no how.)
But if you asked me which author I look up to, now that is an easy one: Gordon Korman. Korman was born in Quebec (twinsies!) and is thus a #canadianauthor woot woot! Like many book lovers, I had a start as writer and … Korman wrote his first book when he was twelve? And was published when he was fourteen? And that first book, This Can’t Be Happening at McDonald Hall is cackle-worthy. Korman is my comedy king. If you’re looking for humour, you are hands down in need of some Gordan Korman.
(He has also written more than 80 books and some have been made into movies which don’t do the books justice of course but they’re still watch-worthy I adore this man okay moving to the review now.)
Schooled is the story of Capricorn Anderson who is thirteen years old and if you think that means the narrative voice in this book is a bit young and simplified you would be right, but if you think that means this book is not good for older readers, you would be wrong. First of all, Cap spent all thirteen of his years being homeschooled on a commune. He offered interesting perspectives on life (regardless of the narrative voice he offered it in) and the way he interacted with the people around him provides additional comedy if you actually *know* things a thirteen year old would not.
As an example, I offer you this line:
I was homeschooled. That was the law. Even on a tiny farm like ours, you had to get an education. No school bus could ever make it up the rutted, snaking dirt road that led to Garland. But transportation wasn’t the only problem. If we’d been serviced by an eight-lane highway, Rain still would have handled my schooling personally. We wanted to avoid the low standards and cultural poisons of a world that had lost its way. (P. 5)
Am I the only one who truly understands the depths to a comment such as “the low standards and cultural poisons of a world that had lost its way”? No thirteen year old child would be able to laugh at the despair in words like that. But maybe my humour is just a little too dark and that was supposed to be a serious moment. Oh, well.
The book switches narratives, but I don’t want to say it switches POV. Because the book is really the story of Capricorn, so every time a new character “speaks,” they’re relating their part in Cap’s life. It’s not so much “Capricorn did this” and “Capricorn did that” but more how a piece of their day was affected by Cap. In this way, each narration enters subtly and doesn’t feel choppy.
The humour in this book is on-point. Cap is completely naive about the modern world, which is where most of the jokes originate. But there’s also the layer of humour that comes from how ignorant the rest of society is to Cap’s world: a life lived away from technology and constant socialization and the emphasis on money.
Schooled is only 236 pages and it goes by fast. What I really want to say is that the plot is clean. There are no unnecessary plot threads, everything is resolved nicely at the end, all the characters play an important role. When I read humour, this is exactly what I want. I don’t really like to be breaking down existential questions or trying to figure out who is who or wondering why so-and-so did such-and-such when all I want is a laugh.
Korman does a nice job of getting laughs and still asking a few good questions about society in Schooled. I highly recommend!
Need a new book rec? Comment below on the genre I should read next week, it may become your new fave!
- Graphic Novel
- Fairytale Retelling