A.K.A. Genius

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Author: Haynes, Marilee Year: 2013
Publisher: Pauline Books & Media Pages: 208
Binding: Paperback
Dimension: 5.25" x 7.75"

When you don't get straight As and you have to spell H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U-S instead of H-O-R-S-E when you play basketball with your best friend, seeing yourself as "gifted" is a real stretch.

Thirteen-year-old Gabe Carpenter is just like any other middle-school boy at St. Jude Academy…well, except for the fact that based on his scores on some seventh grade test, he is considered a "genius" and is placed in an enrichment class with other gifted students. But he sure doesn't seem like a genius-after all, he can't even open his own locker and his brain stops functioning when Becca, his sister's best friend, comes around.

As if these problems aren't enough to deal with, he is convinced that one of his arms is longer than the other, he has yet to grow a mustache, and his second best friend is mad at him. Even worse, his nervousness causes some pretty embarrassing bodily functions. And at home, his dad expects him to be some kind of basketball star athlete instead of a science nerd who predicts the weather.

Join Gabe as he navigates the trying times of middle school, wonders what it means to have brains, and learns what it truly means to be himself.

Themes include: self-acceptance, giftedness, and humor.

Features & Benefits: 

  • Offers relatable characters, particularly with respect to the male protagonist
  • Incorporates humor while exploring issues relating to growing up 
  • Integrates religion with academics and culture
  • Provides a model for building honest and healthy relationships
  • References various patron saints
  • Includes multicultural characters
  • Affirms the value of the individual, encouraging each person's unique talents and/or skills
  • Promotes self-acceptance and finding one's place in the world


About the Author:

Marilee Haynes lives with her husband and three young children just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. A full-time stay-at-home mom, she writes middle-grade fiction in stolen quiet moments (in other words, when everyone else is asleep). This is her first novel.

What Are People Saying about this Title?

"a.k.a. Genius presents a cast of dynamic characters so genuine that any reader will find someone with whom they resonate. The struggles and triumphs of the book's middle school students and their parents are so real that you feel as if you know these very characters. Teens need books just like this; I am looking forward to more from Marilee Haynes." 
-Jenny Purtill, Media Specialist, Barnette Elementary School

"Funny, touching, and real…an extraordinary debut from a gifted writer. Marilee Haynes' a.k.a. Genius offers rich characters and a dynamic plot. A thoroughly enjoyable read that leaves one hoping for a sequel!" 
-Tameka Fryer Brown, author of My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood

What Are People Saying about this Title?

“Seventh-grader Gabe Carpenter aces an IQ test that identifies him as a genius, and when news gets out, his “survival strategy,” which is “not getting noticed,” suffers a “complete system breakdown.” His sister teases him; his friend Maya, who’s supposed to be the smart one in their class, won’t speak to him; and the principal wants Gabe to win the Academic Olympics against a rival school. Furthermore, genius doesn’t seem to matter to Gabe’s father, who’s more interested in sports than academics. Gabe’s doesn’t really appreciate his gift until he winds up in an enrichment class with his best friends Maya and Lincoln. There are others in the class, too: poet Rachel, popular Cameron, and basketball star Ty. In her debut novel, Haynes offers a sort of middle-grade Breakfast Club, in which each classmate brings something unique and essential to the team. The author portrays the students and their problems with humor and empathy in this chipper and believable story about self-acceptance.” 
—Publishers Weekly

“Gabe is a sympathetic underdog readers will likely enjoy rooting for. At its core, this is clearly religious fiction, with references to saints and prayer throughout, but Gabe’s struggle to reconcile his gifts with the traditional social dictates of what’s cool and what’s not transcend affiliation. Arguably the most compelling plotline in the novel centers on Gabe’s struggle to fit in at home: Though his father is admittedly thrilled by his son’s confirmed genius, his actions lead Gabe to believe that he would prefer a star athlete to a star student. Given its enduring themes, this novel from a small Catholic press has some potential for crossover appeal.” 
—Kirkus Review