The First 750 Words

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The Elephant of Surprise

The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger

Fiction -> Young Adult

Geography Club’s Russel Middlebrook and his friends Min and Gunnar are back, and they’re laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise—the tendency for life to never turn out the way you expect. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot, but mysterious guy named Wade—even as he’s also drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min learns her girlfriend Leah is keeping secrets, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest obsession.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?

The Elephant of Surprise, the latest entry in Brent Hartinger’s groundbreaking gay teen Russel Middlebrook Series, is a story of humor, romance, and danger. Before it’s over, Russel and his friends will learn that the Elephant of Surprise really does appear when you least expect him—and that when he stomps on you, it really, really hurts.

Buy the book.

People aren’t always what they seem to be. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

BH_TRMS4_TheElephantofSurprise1So discovers seventeen-year-old Russel Middlebrook in The Elephant of Surprise, a stand-alone sequel to Brent Hartinger’s landmark 2003 gay young adult novel Geography Club.

Later this year, a feature film version of Geography Club will be released, co-starring Scott Bakula, Nikki Blonsky, Ana Gasteyer, and a host of up-and-coming young actors. Even in 2013, it will still be one of the few American movies ever made on a major budget that includes gay and bisexual characters in the leading roles.

With the forthcoming release of the movie, and on the ten-year anniversary of the publication of Geography Club, Hartinger has returned to the characters of his first publishing success: a book that was not only frequently challenged and banned, but was also an unexpected hit with readers, becoming one of the first titles to hint at the exploding popularity of the genre of gay teen lit (and also predicting the “unexpected” success of gay teen television shows like Glee almost ten years later).

But Russel’s story didn’t end with Geography Club.

In The Elephant of Surprise, Russel and his friends Min and Gunnar are laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise – the tendency for life to never turn out as expected. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot but mysterious homeless activist named Wade, even as he’s drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min is learning surprising things about her girlfriend Leah, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest technology obsession.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?

The Elephant of Surprise includes Hartinger’s trademark combination of humor and romance, angst and optimism. Before the story is over, Russel and his friends will learn that the Elephant of Surprise really does appear when you least expect him—and that when he stomps on you, it really, really hurts.

Buy the book.

Bio:

BRENT HARTINGER is the author of a number of novels, mostly for and about teens, including Geography Club (HarperCollins, 2003) and three sequels: The Order of the Poison Oak (HarperCollins, 2005); Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies(HarperCollins, 2007); and The Elephant of Surprise (2013).

His other books include The Last Chance Texaco (HarperCollins, 2004); Grand & Humble (HarperCollins, January 2006); Project Sweet Life (HarperCollins, 2008); and Shadow Walkers (Flux Books, 2011).

Mr. Hartinger’s many writing honors include being named the winner of the Lambda Literary Award, the Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award, a GLAAD Media Award, the Screenwriting in the Sun Award, and a Book Sense Pick (four times).

A feature film version of his first novel, Geography Club, will be released in 2013, starring Scott Bakula and Nikki Blonsky.

Hartinger is also the author of many award-winning screenplays and plays, including a stage adaptation of Geography Club, which has received regional productions in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Edmonton, and elsewhere. A feature film version of his play The Starfish Scream, which has also received many regional productions (and was twice produced in New York), is in active development for a possible 2014 release.

Hartinger is a sometime-member of the faculty at Vermont College in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is also the co-founder of the entertainment website AfterElton.com, which was sold to MTV/Viacom in 2006.

He lives in Seattle with his partner, writer Michael Jensen.

GoodReads page for Elephant of Surprise: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17208612-the-elephant-of-surprise

 

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