Cobb, Katie. Happenings. Harper Collins, 2002. ISBN 978-0064472326 256 pp.
Another novel in the vein of The Gospel According to Larry and God of Beer, Happenings explores what happens when teens rebel in a civilized manner. When the believed AP teacher Mrs. Delaney stops leading philosophical class discussions and passes out busywork handouts, the class, angry at the change of method and content, agrees to practice civil disobedience. They sit with hands folded during class and refuse to do their work but college track students Kelsey and JJ worry over the zero’s they are accumulating in class. Kelsey has the additional stress of her overbearing state trooper brother and legal guardian Russell who keeps her on a tight leash and issues more punishment with each passing non-participant day. Horrified at the threat of expulsion for disruption to the educational procedure, Kelsey struggles to find a way out of the stonewall that will allow her to keep her grade point average and not lose face with her peers. Can the kids get the teacher to change back to her old ways? Do they have any right to try?
Kelsey has more than her share of problems, and the author offers only snippets of Kelsey’s background. The untimely death of her father and the fact that her mother is in a mental institution give this novel the feel of a sequel. Kelsey seems much younger than her 17 years in spite of the fact that she drives and is a senior in high school, and the girl pictured on the cover looks younger as well. The writing is good and the pacing a bit slow, and the romance subplot is predictable but takes a long time to unravel. The plot is strong, but the not completely finished or quite believable characterization don’t quite carry the story.