Young Republicans and full body cavity searches? You’d think it’d be hard to put those two together, but Gordon Korman does it in the first few sentences of his hilarious novel Born to Rock, so you know it’s going to be good. The story opens with the narrator, Leo Carraway, bemoaning the unceremonious end to his summer job (a.k.a. the full body cavity search). As the story unfolds, we learn that Leo is an active Young Republican whose greatest goals are to date a beautiful Young Republican (the reason he joined) and to attend Harvard with his full-ride scholarship. Being the action-packed and hysterical novel that this is, rest assured that Leo’s dreams are not handed to him on a silver platter.
Leo is accused of cheating after trying to help a friend of his best friend with a major exam. His scholarship is revoked, and his life heads into a downward spiral. The worst news for Leo is that he discovers that his real dad is not the nice guy who’s been raising him for 17 years, but instead a punk rock legend named King Maggot. His best friend worships King Maggot’s music, but Leo finds it repulsive and is utterly unhappy with his newfound parentage. But Leo hatches a plan to save his place at Harvard — if Leo can only get to King Maggot and tell him that he is Maggot’s son, he can ask his rich punk dad for Harvard tuition and his life will be back on track. Easier said than done.
This story is chock full of zany situations and wild characters. Poor Leo has to endure all kinds of humiliations (I’d say a full body cavity search ranks as probably one of the most humiliating experiences a human can be subjected to!), but it’s impossible not to laugh. If you like funny books, or rock n’ roll books, or Young Republican books, then you do not want to miss this one.