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Why is character important to understanding the book The Misfits written by James Howe? From a teaching/recommendation perspective.

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The main characters in The Misfits, like characters in many young adult novels with a targeted audience of middle school readers, are stereotypical outcasts.

There is overweight Bobby Goodspeed (who moonlights as a tie salesman in a department store, even though he's only 12) who is the kind-hearted, level-headed, unusually mature ringleader.  There is outspoken Addie, an activist for female rights, so to speak, who initiates most of the action in the story.  Add to these the openly gay and fashion enthusiast Joe, and dirty and rebellious Skeezie, and you are almost looking at the cast of "Glee" in novel form.

The characters are key to understanding the main themes of this novel, which include overcoming social injustice due to diversity, acceptance of those who are different, and of course, the idea that the underdog has a chance of "winning" as long as he does the "right thing."

Generally speaking, the book is a stylistically unique approach to an otherwise cliche middle school novel subject.  Kids who like this book, probably enjoy it because it does speak to the most common questions and issues in the minds of middle schoolers and does so with humor and generally likable characters.  Unfortunately, through long bouts of narration (from Bobby's perspective) and very little dialogue (presented in the form of "minutes" from the Floating Forum meetings) it is difficult for many students to get into this book.  Most claim to like it by the end, but complain of it dragging the entire way there.

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