What an amazing book this is and what an amazing start to one of the greatest series I have ever read. Thank you John.
"The Haley Experiment" - Background:
So my daughter (age 14) and I spend close to 2 hours in the car together daily traveling to and from school. We chat, she studies and a lot of time...she reads. Yes, imagine that. :) So I thought I would try something with her. Beginning next week we will read this together (actually she will read aloud/I will listen), we will talk about it, and I will then post her thoughts on what we have read. If we need gifs or other ways to express her thoughts, I will let her select them.
I have wanted her to read this for some time. I think the time is here...plus we all need a daily dose of Brad and Kyle...it's been too long.
We shall see how this experiment goes, but regardless it will be fun.
"The Haley Experiment" - Book 1 - Question and Answer Time
Note: I wrote the questions and Haley wrote these responses in her own words. No edits were made. You can see my initial review below along with our status updates at the bottom.
Me: So what are your initial thoughts?
Haley: OMG!!! AHHHHHHHH! I absolutely LOVED this book!! It was a great mixture of funny, cute, sad, making me want to go "Yeah!" kind of book. I am a big fan of romantic kind of books, but this one is different, and so good! I cannot wait to read the next one.Me: After reading the author's note at the beginning, you had an instant connection to the references to John Hughes movies. After reading the book, do you think John Goode captured some of same qualities?
Haley: When I first read the Author's Note I knew this was going to be a good book. I am a big big fan (and geek) of 80's movies, and I really think John represented it well. When Brad and Kyle would share their emotions it reminded me a lot of the one scene in "Breakfast Club" where everyone is sharing their feelings. Also, this book also reminded me of "Can't Buy Me Love" the unpopular guy goes out with the popular girl, and they actually really start liking each other, no matter if they are popular or not. The people's reactions to their dating in that movie, was well captured in this book. Me: Did you have issues or were you uncomfortable reading any certain scenes?
Haley: I did get uncomfortable a little when Brad and Kyle kissed and stuff, just because I was reading it out loud to my mom, which is kind of weird. Sorry mom. Haha. But, really it didn't affect me. I thought it was cute! <3Me: How did you feel reading about 2 boys as opposed to a girl and a boy?
Haley: Of course it was different than reading about a boy and a girl. Again, it was a little weird in some scenes. But that's just because I was reading it out loud. It was different and new to me, but I really liked it. Plus, I can imagine them being really cute (and hot), so it's cute and nice.Me: Who was your favorite character and why?
Haley: My favorite character was Kyle!! Gah, he is just adorable and sweet. I love how he is quiet, and how gets embarrassed easily. He just seems like a really smart, sweet, and cute guy. He also really does seems like a Woody or Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story." He's a hero! :)Me: Who was your least favorite character and why?
Haley: My least favorite character(s) were Mr. Adler and Mr. Raymond. Argh! They annoyed me so much, and I wanted to slap them around. They didn't do ANYTHING. All they cared about was themselves and the school, not the kids.Me: What were your thoughts on the mothers?
Haley: I had mixed emotions on the mothers. They were really nice and good mothers at parts, but at others they weren't. Brad's mom wouldn't do anything when Brad's dad beat him. Kyle's mom let random guys beat him. It had to take something to happen at school for them to think what was happening to their sons wasn't right. I did love them at the end, though.Me: What did you think of Kelly?
Haley: I think Kelly is scared. Kelly likes guys, and still wants to be popular. This is why he is mean and a bully. He is scared. I think there is more to his story, and I really don't think he is all that bad. The scene with him and Brad was sad and sweet.Me: What was your favorite scene?
Haley: My favorite scene was the last scene. It was funny, surprising, and it just made me really happy. WE WON!! Hahaha.Me: I mentioned in our updates that you turned all "Million Dollar Baby" on me at one point. The following quote got the biggest rise out of you. Why?
“Going somewhere?” Adler asked.
I looked at Brad, who wouldn’t meet my gaze. I sighed and said to Mr. Adler, “According to you, I’m going to hell if I don’t change my ways.”
I expected him to brush it off, to just ignore the verbal jab and to push on. Instead he said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Not according to me, according to the Bible."
Haley: I am a Christian, and I don't believe it says that boys can't love and marry each other, it just never mentions it. For someone to say that, I think it's going way to far. I would probably slap the person and walk awayMe: How different do you think Foster High is from University School of Nashville?
Haley: I think Foster High is really different from USN. Foster High is in such a small town, and USN is in a big city. Also, USN is all about free and about being you. I feel like at Foster High everyone is too scared to embrace their true self.Me: At what age do you think this book becomes appropriate to read? Why?
Haley: I really think you should be 15-16 to read this book. My mom counted how many F words were in the book, and there are 70+. We did have to skip a scene, and I did read to myself a couple of scenes. So, I think being 15 is a good age.Me: Would you like your friends to read this book?
Haley: I would love for my friends to read this book. There are some of my friends that probably wouldn't like it as much. But, I do think some of my friends would love it!
Haley: Lastly, I absolutely LOVED this book. John Goode you are AMAZING! I'm really glad that you like 80's movies because now we have that connection! You are awesome! Can't wait to read the next one!!Me: What an unforgettable experience. <3. See below for updates made throughout this journey.
My Review - from August 2014
First let me say...John Goode...
It was JG's Author's Note that preceded this book that first captured my love and attention. As someone who went through both middle and high school in the 80's, the references to John Hughes movies (which have since become timeless classics) hold a special place in my heart.
This book captured the special quality of those classics. From the jackasses...
To the jocks...
To the unbelievable authority figures...
To some adorable nerds...
And while not Hughes..."Can't Buy Me Love" was most thought of...
These boys totally captured my attention and love...I need more. I have no personal knowledge of what coming out in high school is like but feel JG captured it heartbreakingly accurate. These boys were beautifully open, brave and strong young men who anyone should be proud of.
My only irritation was with the mothers! Argh!! I wanted to smack these worthless women in the head. To think that it took their sons getting beat up outside the home for them to give a shit! Forget what they allowed to go on inside their own homes. Just sickening.
Note while the first gif is not from a classic Hughes movie...it fit my initial point perfectly...plus you gotta love a good Cameron Crowe film as well.
1 %The Haley Experiment - Book 1/Post 1
Well we are off to a good start...she caught every John Hughes reference and ended by saying..."Aw, makes me want to watch all those movies again!"
10%The Haley Experiment – Book 1/Post 2
And so it begins…Meeting Kyle.My head jerked up so fast it was a blur as I realized I was still standing in the middle of a high school hallway instead of running toward him in the middle of a field while music played around us.
Haley: She paused…and chuckled…said she totally can see this.
Me: Let me preface this next quote with the fact that Haley is theatrical…but here she was full on acting, doing the voices, and everything. “Awesome. Thanks, Kyle,” he said, turning around and then pausing. “That's your name right?” He seemed contrite and embarrassed all at once, which made him about a thousand times more attractive in my eyes.
I paused for an impossibly long moment as I realized I didn’t know my name either. “Yes!” I blurted out as the memory of my given name stumbled across the tip of my tongue. “My name is Kyle!” I tried again, reinforcing it by saying it out loud again.
His smile turned into a wide grin as he held out his hand. “I’m Brad.” .
Haley: “Oh my gosh, they have to make a movie of this.”“Bradley?” a woman’s voice called out. “Bradley, is that you?”
Me: Yes, obviously her best voice. But it was the movie poster that had me puzzled.
I mean, sure, everyone had seen that movie. Didn’t matter what year it came out—that movie defined what being in high school was about. Though a complete fairy tale, it spoke of different people forced to spend a day together and realizing they had more in common than they ever knew.
Haley: Paused and exclaimed “Breakfast Club”!…“Peachy”
To be continued...
19%The Haley Experiment - Book 1/Post 3
We stood there for what seemed like an eternity as my mind locked up. I had no idea what to say. I wanted to turn and run. I wanted to throw my arms around him and kiss him. I wanted to melt into the floor and just fade away I wanted to do all of that and not say anything to shatter the moment.
And then he opened his mouth and, with a huge grin, said, "Hi."
"He is just teasing him!"I hadn't noticed him, though, because all I saw was Brad. I'm pretty sure he wasn't standing there, one leg on a bench, as wind blew through his hair and an 80's rock anthem played softly in the background, but that was how I saw him.
Haley: Sets down phone and laughs saying (with hand gestures) "I imagine a guy with light shining behind and everything around blurry and fading away as he flips his hair!"I pushed the door to my bedroom open and froze in place when I saw Brad sitting on my bed, thumbing through a well-worn copy of The Outsiders. He looked over with a concerned look on his face. "Hey."
Haley: Sets phone down.
"Oh my gosh...how did he get in his room?""Oh, God, Kyle."
Me: Laughs and blushes.
Haley: "I am just going to read this part to myself."
To be continued...
27%The Haley Experiment - Book 1/Post 4
“I know, I know.” Then, after a few seconds, sorrow began to saturate his words. “My dad hits me too.”
Haley: Sets book down.“And this is Jennifer,” he said, smiling at the beautiful blonde girl sitting next to him.
“My girlfriend,” he finished as the blood drained from my face.
“Pleased to meet you,” I said automatically, my face a mask of congeniality.
Haley: aaah...Once upon a time there was a boy who didn’t get to fall in love.
To be continued...
So funny...I love all those references to the Disney Princesses.
32%The Haley Experiment - Book 1/Post 5
I tried to banish from my mind the image of a prince showing up with a horse-drawn carriage, tried to tell myself my life wasn’t like that. But no matter how I tried to ignore that fantasy, I had to admit Brad would look incredible as a Disney prince, his dark red hair carefully swept back as his bangs danced playfully above those soulful green eyes. In our school, he was practically royalty already. It wasn’t a huge leap to imagine him in the line of succession to an actual throne.
Haley: OMG...you have to get that gif from Into the Woods of Chris Pine singing "Agony".
Me (now): LOL...well of course Disney has blocked any and all videos ...but I did locate this fabulous gif...
To be continued...
34%The Haley Experiment - Book 1/Post 6
...by the time I walked into third period, everyone knew what had gone down. They all stared at me, whispering as if I was Edward Cullen, except not as tall and nowhere near as handsome.
Haley: "Well...we have to have a picture of Edward!"I don't remember the moment I knew I was broken...but I do know the moment I began to feel fixed.
It was the day the green-eyed boy fell in love with me.
"...so sweet." *flips page* "Oh yeah...Brad!"
To be continued...
42%The Haley Experiment – Book 1/Post 7
There is a TV show that I really don’t watch where unpopular kids get cold drinks thrown in their faces just walking down the hall.
Haley: "Oh I am pretty sure that is Glee."
Me (now): Yep…one reference she got that I did not. :/He blushed right on cue as I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture. The flash made him blink as I looked at the screen. His face was so perfect, so adorable that I felt something move in my chest. I wasn’t sure if I liked the way it made my heart skip a beat slightly or not.
Haley just smiled.
And yes another blushing mom moment.”Oh Jesus,” he moaned…
Haley: “I am going to read this to myself.”
Me (now): Haley is not uncomfortable. Yes, some of this is a little more than she probably needs to read but she gets it…and the fact that this is two boys has not phased her one bit and I love that most of all.
To be continued…
54%The Haley Experiment - Book 1/Post 8
I wandered around the lobby, wondering if my mom would even say anything if I came home so early in the day, when Jennifer walked by the window. I froze in midsip. She turned to check herself in the window. She turned to check herself in the window and instead saw me standing open mouthed in shock at the injustice of it all.
Haley: "You're not a bad-looking guy, and you seem cool. Guys like us shouldn't have to be alone."
"Like us?" He asked, smiling.
"Hot, athletic, gay guys," I replied.
"So I'm hot?" he asked.
"For an old guy, sure."
We both laughed at that.
Haley: "Gaaahh, that entire scene was so great!!"
To be continued...
60%The Haley Experiment – Book 1/Post 9
It started out as spanking, first over his lap with his hand, and later graduating up to a belt. The humiliation made me cry more than the actual blows. I can’t imagine what being forced to have sex is like, but being held down while my dad hit me with a belt was as close as I ever wanted to get to it. The helplessness of being held motionless and hit by someone else is about as bad as a situation can get without openly bordering on anything sexual.
Spanking and belting didn’t make me a better person.
If anything, the punishments gave me another reason to hate my dad and my life in general. I hated him for hitting me, hated my mom for not stopping him, and hated myself for being such a bad person that Dad was forced to punish me.
Me (now): Overall this was pretty upsetting. Not really much to say here.“This is the boy?”
“He likes you?”
I nodded again.
“You like him too?”
I smiled and looked away as I gave a quiet, “Yeah.”
“Then do something about it,” she said, handing me my phone. “If you don’t, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering how things would have been different if you had.”
I couldn’t say anything as I took what solace I could from my mother’s permission.
Haley: “I actually like his mom.”
Me: “Yeah. She’s coming around.”
Me (now): Knowing the whole story…yeah I like her more. I still have a very hard time with the fact that she allowed her husband to beat up their son and did nothing really about this. That is a very hard thing for me, as a mom, to understand. :(“I want to be with you. You, Kyle,” I said, pointing at him. “And I may screw up, and I may be stupid, but I am never going to let you be alone.” I took a step toward him and grabbed his hands. “I’m here until the day you tell me to go away.” I leaned in and whispered in his ear, “And I’m the one who owes you.” He looked down and opened his hand. Inside were eighty one cents and my class ring. “You forgot your change.”
His face broke into a smile as he hugged me.
“Get in here,” he said, pulling me inside.
At that moment I knew I’d follow him anywhere he took me.
74%The Haley Experiment – Book 1/Post 10
“Um, right. So you’re the one who turned Brad gay, right?”…
“Yes,” I said, turning to face her directly. “Yes, I did. I took Brad Greymark, one of the most popular guys in school, and used my gay magic on him to turn him into one of us.” Her eyes got wide, and she looked at each of her friends’ faces in disbelief. I realized too late that she really thought I was answering her honestly. Foster, Texas, Kyle. Remember. Foster, Texas.
Before I could say anything else, they began to laugh and wandered off like a flock of peroxide-addled sheep.
“So you aren’t going to do anything?” His gaze got stern as he realized I wasn’t just going away.
“There are over a thousand students in this school, Mr. Stilleno, and I can assure you a majority of them will not agree with your ‘lifestyle choice’.” Again with the air quotes. “If you were expecting special treatme