Bobby Goodspeed and his three friends--Addie Carle, Joe Bunch, and Skeezie Tookis--are the misfits in their middle school. Bobby is fat and quiet, Addie is both very bright and very idealistic (and outspoken), Skeezie cultivates an image somewhere between Elvis and Fonzie, and Joe Bunch is gay.
But the middle school election for the student body government is coming up, and Addie has an idea. She wants them to participate--and not by joining in on one of the existing parties, Democrat and Republican. She wants to launch a third party, the Freedom Party, with the idea that they will represent minority students.
But the school administration is not impressed by their vague platform and the fact that they've managed to recruit a popular black student as their presidential candidate. Addie is passionate, but they don't really have a platform.
Then Bobby realizes their real platform has been staring them in the face all along--all the mean, belittling names they've been called since kindergarten--and not just them, of course. It's a torture most kids live through, and it's something the four-member Gang of Five can speak about with eloquence and clarity.
This book takes on some tough issues, but it does so with good humor and a light touch. These kids aren't miserable; they're not the popular kids at school, but for the most part they enjoy their lives. They're not the victims of bullying who are at risk of suicide from the abuse--but they still hate being the targets of name-calling, and their big insight is that everyone else hates being the targets of name-calling, too.
James Howe has a gentle sense of humor and treats all his characters with respect, and this is, as you'd expect from Howe, an excellent story. The bonus extra is that this is a Full Cast Audio recording, with all the excellent production values that that entails.
I bought this book.