Fat Kid Rules the World is a young adult novel published by American author KL Going in 2003. The story follows a suicidal, 296 pound teen, Troy Billings, who befriends a local guitar legend, Curt MacCrae.
MacCrae insists that they form a band together with Troy playing drums. KL Going has stated it was inspired by a mix of punk music, Kurt Cobain biographies, and a rejection letter she received from an editor.
Billings, 6’1 and weighing 296 pounds, is contemplating suicide when a homeless former student from Troy’s school, Curt McCrae, intervenes. McCrae tells Troy that he saved his life, now he owes him a favor, insisting that they start a band together with Troy playing drums. The only problem is that Troy can’t play drums.
Together, Curt and Troy create the band Rage/Tectonic. Although unable to play drums, he goes right into practicing for an upcoming gig. In the process, Troy finds self-confidence and acceptance while realizing he is desperately trying to save Curt’s life from drug addiction and abuse.
This story of an overweight, depressed teenager who figures out where he belongs when he discovers punk music still resonates with this generation of young people. If anything, it’s even more poignant as many teens struggle with fitting in and music is an ever-more-important factor in their lives and forming friendships. The film, like the book, doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, from drug use to suicide to complicated friendships and family relationships.
Fat Kid Rules the World received predominantly positive reviews from critics. The Open Critic stated “K.L. Going makes a great example of teen’s life in this great book. Every page will leave the reader thinking of just how more anyone can change.”
Challenges to the book include its references to suicide, drug us and difficult family situations. yet in an age where obesity among young people is epidemic, the story is — above all else — one of hope.