Squirrel Nut. That’s what Felton Reinstein is called by all his peers in Stupid Fast, by Geoff Herbach. With his awkward ways and quiet nature, Felton doesn’t have too many friends where he lives. He is a pretty unathletic guy until he shoots up in height in high school. He is no longer the scrawny kid he used to be. Not only did he grow in height, he got faster, and I mean stupid fast. He went from a nobody to one of the best runners at the high school level. Although Felton’s body has changed, his relationships with his family and friends, and his identity hasn’t. He isn’t very connected with his mom because his dad commit suicide when he was young and he and his mom have been distant ever since. His little brother is very weird and Felton shares no common interests with him. He doesn’t have many friends and is distancing himself from them as well as his loved ones. Felton is confused if he is still a nobody or a D1 bound “honkey” football prospect. Felton is having a lot of trouble with relationships and identity.
Using these big ideas of relationships and identity, the author, Geoff Herbach pursues the theme of comfort. Felton uses the idea of relationships to gain comfort with his life. Felton starts off his summer with a failed first year doing track, and gaining a new nemesis, Ken Johnson. Ken is only a little faster that Felton, but takes every chance he can to pick on Felton and call him a bad athlete. As summer progresses, Felton finds friendship in the school football quarterback, Cody. Because Felton’s only friend moved away for the summer. This really turned his life around. After this relationship he made, he was able to ignore the haters and keep living his life comfortably. This establishes so much for him like being able to gain the comfort and confidence to talk to the new girl, or try football for the first time. While Felton is making all these friends and slowly getting his life together, there are also things pulling him back. After Felton’s dad killed himself, Felton’s mom has been weird. She has always loved Felton, but she’s a bit crazy. Now with Felton hanging out with his new friends, he is getting busy and he is getting ruder and more critical of his mom. This relationship with his mom turns into his mom cracking and going so insane to the point where she stops working, watches TV all day, and ignores Felton and his brother. This little bump might not be the worst thing because it helps Felton to get closer to his brother because it’s just them. This helps Felton to overcome the awkwardness of his family situation and be more comfortable around his mom and brother. I really had a hard time understanding Felton because my family situation is very different from his. After reading the book from cover to cover though, my view of this big idea of family relations changed drastically. I understand now that no matter what it looks like (even your little brother lighting his clothes on fire), a family is a family no matter how big or small or broken. Family is just people who go through it all together. They might not love every minute of it, but they still do it together. Felton's family isn't just his mom and brother though, it's every one who got him to where he is and everyone with him 100% of the way. Geoff Herbach also uses the big idea of identity to pursue a theme of comfort. Because Felton’s life as changed so drastically, he has no idea who he should be. Although man versus himself isn’t the most prominent conflict, there’s a lot of identity issues going on in Felton’s life. He doesn’t know if he should be a honkey- his way of saying air headed jerk- or the regular guy he is. He constantly has this internal struggle, and really grows and matures because of it. He finds his ways of coping with difficult things, and he finds his niche and things he does best. The relationship he builds with himself really reflects in the way he talks and interacts with the people around him. He speaks with confidence and understanding of his capability, and capitalizes where he needs to in social situations because he’s comfortable with the way he is. My idea of identity has changed by reading this because I used to think identity was what you wanted to be and the person you wish to see yourself as. But believe it or not, sometimes people lie to themselves to make them feel better in their eyes. I'm guilty of it. Stupid Fast shows that identity is who you really are deep down inside, bottled up where sometimes not even you want to know where it is. Felton deeply struggles with this because he doesn't know who he is or wants to be, and he has no sense of what's inside him. He only figures it out after a lot of reflecting on his past and seeing what his choices are doing for him now.
That’s how Felton gained control of his life, and how he got comfortable in his own shoes. As cheesy as it sounds, you have to know yourself and the people around you to discover meaning in the things around you. You never know what you could find or notice when you’re comfortable with your surroundings. Overall, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach uses the main character's relationships and identity to pursue the theme of comfort. Feel free to comment below to agree or disagree with my thoughts on this book, and thanks for reading!