help my teenagers cope with moving
February 23, 2008 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Adolescent angst-filter --- please recommend good books/movies about being the new kid in town.

I'm uprooting my 12- and 14-year-old boys just as they're heading into high school, and relocating several states away. I'm looking for books/movies they will relate to as they adjust. Leaving friends, being angry at parents, feeling like a freak, etc. One is a reader and can handle heavier themes/denser works, and the other would benefit more from accessible coming-of-age movies & stories. So suggestions across the board are welcome & appreciated!
posted by headnsouth to Human Relations (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Hoot comes to mind.
posted by LoriFLA at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2008

Footloose. They can shake things up at their new school!
posted by HotPatatta at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2008

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Also, Taxi Driver made me feel good when I went through a period of isolation and feeling like a freak in my mid-twenties. It might not be appropriate for a 12-year-old, although, I think I had seen worse at that age.
posted by ignignokt at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2008

the karate kid!
posted by ncc1701d at 12:17 PM on February 23, 2008

Billy Elliot and Bend it Like Beckham!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2008

Ferris Bueller, Napoleon Dynamite, Pale Rider, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (series or movie (I like the series, my wife prefers the movie)), Desperado, and Crossroads are all movies/videos that my kids and/or I liked under similar circumstances. Also the Seven Samurai and various spaghetti Westerns.

For books, I was reading Lord of the Rings, Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann and Mark Twain at that age, but my boys were mostly playing Magic the Gathering and various video games at that age.
posted by RussHy at 12:22 PM on February 23, 2008

For Teen Angst rent Buffy, Angel or Dawson's Creek videos...
posted by RussHy at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2008

Anecdote: I moved at the age of 12 and went through a period of thrashing furiously at any book which attempted to suggest that if only I would Have A Positive Attitude, I would Make Lots Of Friends and Everything Would Be All Right.

That said:
Cecil Castellucci's "Beige" has what you describe in a LA punk-rock setting, longish but not very dense, more appropriate for 14 than for 12. Also consider Castellucci's graphic novel "The Plain Janes." Both may be too girly, however.

"Hoot" is a good one for 12, pretty light.
posted by Jeanne at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2008

Although it's been out of print for years, personally I think Shoebag is the best kid's book with these themes.

It's about a cockroach that is turned into a human boy, and has to adjust to life in school. Aside from the reverse-Kafka premise, it has a very realistic portrayal of what it's like to be an outcast in school.

The reading level is 9-12 years old, and it is very accessibly written even though it deals with some pretty complex themes.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:27 PM on February 23, 2008

Encino Man.

Think about it...he was a caveman...and rather than moving locations, he moved over TIME.


I'd be pretty pissed too.

Also, its based on a true story.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

He's not exactly the new kid in the story, but Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate teen angsty, I-feel-like-an-outsider hero.
posted by sweetkid at 12:40 PM on February 23, 2008

I think Heathers has stood the test of time but it might not be quite the tone you're looking for.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 12:51 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

spirited away by miyazaki? It's about a small girl and her parents turn themselves into pigs by eating too much and she has to save them. In the beginning though the issue is that they're moving and she's unhappy about that. Actually I think a lot of miyazaki cartoons are about moving to a new place, I think Kiki's delivery service is about that, too. I haven't seen them in a while. Totoro might have this theme also.
posted by rainy at 12:57 PM on February 23, 2008

Over the Edge
posted by sciatica at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2008

Isn't Footloose about a new kid in town played by Kevin Bacon?
posted by jayder at 1:31 PM on February 23, 2008

Jeez, I guess I should have RTF answers.
posted by jayder at 1:33 PM on February 23, 2008

Maniac Magee! It's an awesome book, won a Newbury, deals with some real-world issues..
posted by suedehead at 1:35 PM on February 23, 2008

Moving to a new hometown is a minor theme in the film, but I would say Spirited Away fits the bill.
posted by Squee at 1:50 PM on February 23, 2008

Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (upon which the horrible "kiss my grits" sitcom was based) is pretty excellent, and seems like it would fit the bill pretty nicely.

Over the Edge definitely has angst in spades, but there's not much "new kid" content. Dazed and Confused would complement it well, and contains tons of awkward social adjustment. (Parental guidance strongly encouraged.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:20 PM on February 23, 2008

FYI headnsouth: the movie "Over the Edge" is about what can go wrong when the needs of youth are ignored. It sounds like you are interested in doing just the opposite. Still, I liked the movie so perhaps you want to view it to help put yourself in their shoes.
posted by forthright at 2:24 PM on February 23, 2008

Anything by S.E. Hinton, including the movies of his books will prove entertaining.
posted by ptm at 2:25 PM on February 23, 2008

Oh, and I have to recommend the tragically short-lived series Freaks & Geeks, and, though it's more girl-oriented and AFAIK unavailable on DVD, the similar (and just as short-lived) My So-Called Life.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:47 PM on February 23, 2008

Response by poster: Lots of great recommendations so far, thanks MeFites =)

Sys Rq, Freaks & Geeks and My So-Called Life are both netflixable & are in our queue now.

Answering my own question, I just thought of This Boy's Life, and googling around a bit I've learned of a short story by Roddy Doyle called "New Boy" which has also been made into a short film.

Keep 'em coming, thanks!
posted by headnsouth at 3:11 PM on February 23, 2008

Lost Boys
posted by canoehead at 3:16 PM on February 23, 2008

Response by poster: Ah, and Jeanne, thanks for your thoughts --- I'm definitely not trying to put a smiley face on this or make the kids put one one either --- I just want them to know that whatever they are feeling on a given day before/during/after the move is understandable & normal.
posted by headnsouth at 3:16 PM on February 23, 2008

About Over the Edge, I recommended it because I am pretty sure that Carl, the main kid, is new in town and keeps getting moved around.
posted by sciatica at 3:21 PM on February 23, 2008

Seconding "Beige." And seconding anything by SE Hinton -- they're dated but her work totally holds up.
posted by umbĂș at 3:26 PM on February 23, 2008

Not necessarily about being the new kid, but a good teen movie in general is Empire Records.
posted by DesbaratsDays at 6:21 PM on February 23, 2008

Oh, and DarlingBri, is right on!
posted by DesbaratsDays at 6:27 PM on February 23, 2008

In my opinion, the absolute best book on this topic which is fun to read and doesn't seem like a "hey kid, read this book for your teen angst" is Alan Mendelsohn, Boy From Mars, by Daniel Pinkwater (linked book has two other novels and two other stories in it). Your kids will like it and you will like it too. Here is the first two paragraphs of sumary from Wikipedia
The story is about a portly kid named Leonard Neeble moving from his old neighborhood to West Kangaroo Park. There Leonard goes to a new school, Bat Masterson Junior High. He suffers greatly at the hands of the other kids, even the other nerds, until one day a new student appears in his class: a boy named Alan Mendelsohn, recently relocated from the Bronx. They are soon friends.

Together they go back to Leonard's old neighborhood where the two meet Samuel Klugarsh, owner of an occult bookstore, who claims to have developed a course of psychic training called "Klugarsh Mind Control." Samuel Klugarsh sells the two friends a kit for learning how to produce "omega waves," a type of brain waves supposedly generated when one meditates one's way into the mental state known as "State Twenty-Six."
posted by jessamyn at 9:06 PM on February 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

I liked Tangerine. The Wikipedia summary contains spoilers, so don't read past the first paragraph or two.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 11:22 PM on February 23, 2008

I just got home from the movie and sat down here to tell you, you really need to take them to see Charlie Bartlett right now. I'm buying the DVD as soon as it comes out. I think it's better than Ferris Bueller. That is saying something, since I collect these kinds of films and stories.

We moved from California to a much smaller town in Idaho when I was in 7th grade. It was a huge culture shock. I hope your move turns out well.
posted by RussHy at 1:11 PM on February 24, 2008

I would like to second (or nth?) Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One. I originally read this book when I was 12, and it has stayed with me.

If you have some long roadtrips to be taking any time soon, see if you can pick this up in audiobook form from your library for the car ride. The version read by Humphrey Bower (not certain there are others) is especially well-read, with excellent variation in voices for characters and precisely the right tone and pacing. A good audiobook is, in my experience, hard to come by - but this one is really the gold standard.

Stay away from the film adaptation, though. Like the sad majority of major motion picture adaptations, it completely fails to capture the emotion and humanity of the book.
posted by dorothy humbird at 11:03 PM on February 24, 2008

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