The other day I finished King Dork by Frank Portman, (former) front man of the band, The Mr. T Experience who I remember coming through Pittsburgh a few times in my youth.
It’s a “young adult” novel, which is a genre that I don’t delve into often*. Tom Henderson is the main character. He’s a dork, surprise, who is well outside of the “normal” clique in his high school. He has one friend, Sam Hellerman, who he’s friends with largely becauses of alphabetical ordering. They’re in a band together. In fact, they’re in many bands together. Tom maps out his school year so far, in fact, by what their band was named at the time. They have lots of trouble finding a drummer (which I might relate to—my high school band, Where’s Luke?, got its name from our missing drummer). Tom gets harassed daily by the alpha males of the school. He has a bit of a disfunctional family, with a step-father that he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with, a mother that’s still disturbed by Tom’s father’s death some six years in the past. The book finds him struggling with the bullies at the school, his family, Sam’s new friends, his first experiences with girls, and mysterious notes left in some of his father’s books from his childhood.
It was a quick read and I liked it a lot. I related to Tom in some ways. I liked that it was sort of like taking an normal YA novel and jamming in a little bit of music geekery. And it was a good and interesting story. I found myself wanting to find out what happened next. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it was worthwhile.
* The last YA novel that I read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower (in a day back in the spring of 2003) which was written by a guy that went to my high school. I related to it for my similarities to the main character but also because of the connection to my high school, which was pretty subtle, small references to teachers I had and phrases we used. One of the acknowledgements at the beginnig of the book was of a person I used to play ultimate with. The main characters of King and Perks come down on polar opposite sites of whether Catcher in the Rye is a good book or not.