Don Calame has a great sense of humor. I enjoyed reading Swim the Fly but my experience with the sequel Beat the Band was even better. Cooper makes for a hilarious and sympathetic protagonist. Like many high school students, Cooper is obsessed with his reputation. He desperately wants to cover all the bases with a hot girl and be cool with all the guys (and the popular girls) in school. However, the already shaky foundation upon which his reputation sits is about to crumble when he is paired up with Hot Dog Helen Horowitz, the school pariah, for a semester-long Health class project. He does everything not to be seen with her and to get rid of her and gets encouragement from the popular kids. He goes so far as to enter himself and his friends in the school Battle of the Bands contest in order to up his cool status. However, he begins to realize that Helen isn't all that bad. In fact, she's pretty awesome! But has he gone too far? Has he become just another bully?
This book is full of great jokes. The fart-library scene had be cracking up. It's also got a lot of cringe-worthy moments when we feel bad for Helen who doesn't deserve the bullying and angry at Cooper for letting it happen. Cooper is a great character and it's wonderful watching him evolve. I think Cooper's Dad is one of the best characters in the book. He's a cool/uncool dad who is oblivious to the "you can't do that" mindset and encourages his son to compete in the Battle of the Bands even when the circumstances look very dire. You'll envy Cooper for having such an awesome dad.
I read this on audiobook and the narrator Nick Podehl did such an amazing job with all the voices and even with the fart noises. Go Podehl!
I highly recommend this to people who want to read a funny YA novel or want to read something about bullying. Or both!