Beauregard (Bo) Brewster appears to be your typical high school senior, making average grades, playing on the football team, and working at an after school job. Two things, however, set Bo apart from most of his peers: his difficulty controlling his temper and his determination to compete in Yukon Jack’s Eastern Invitational Scabland Triathlon. Through a series of letters to Larry King, Bo unravels the story of his senior year. He quits the football team, setting up a series of negative interactions with both his former coach and his father. He then is sentenced to three months of anger management classes, in lieu of suspension, for calling one of his teachers (the exfootball coach) an obscene name. Through this experience and the relationships formed with other group members, Beau begins to understand where his anger comes from and how to control it. He also starts to see some of the problems his peers face. As he gains this valuable experience, it helps him cope with some of the problems in his life. He attempts to address the volatile relationship with his father and learns the critical lesson of acceptance. All the while, Beau is training for competing in Yukon Jack’s Ironman competition. In the end, Beau accomplishes his physical goals and is working toward repairing the relationship with his father. The reader ends the book with a more mature, responsible Bo. From Getting Beyond the Cuss Words by Lisa Scherff and Candace Lewis Wright

Quotes from Ironman:

“Then hearing Elvis today made me think I didn't have a lot to bitch about, but when I said that to Mr. Nak after group, he said, "Don't get to thinkin' just because some other guy's sinkin' in horse manure, the stuff up around your neck is chocolate puddin'. A wound is a wound, young Brewster. Remember that. Don't diminish the pain of your own just because you see some other gut-shot cowboy bleedin' to death.” - Mr. Nakatani


“See, Mr. Nak'll be talking about how anger comes creeping up, hoping you're not paying attention so it can trick you into something really embarrassing or degrading, and before you know it he's got you thinking about your life, or worse, talking about it. He keeps asking what seem like harmless questions, and it almost seems safe to answer them. Next thing you know you're ready to say something you thought you'd never tell anybody.” - Elvis


“You know, Bo, there is a feeling, in that instant following some life-changing tragedy, that you can actually step back over that sliver of time and stop the horror from coming. But that feeling is a lie, because in the tiniest microminisecond after any event occurs, it is as safe in history as Julius Caesar. Data in the universal computer is backed up as it happens.” - Lionel Serbousek


“Lion emits a low whistle as he spots Bo entering his fifth-period Journalism class. 'What happened to your face?'

Bo touches it tenderly and smiles. 'Nothing....."

'This wasn't your Dad.'

Bo smiles again. 'No. My dad leaves bruises on the inside.” - Bo Brewster

For Teachers:Theme and Theory Connectors

Teachers often choose the five themes listed below to focus on when creating lesson plans, believing that students will be interested in and identify with the stories and characters through them. For example, high school is often the time when adolescents search to find their individual identities, balancing physical maturation and emotional self-control.

1. Search for identity

2. Maturation

3. Confrontation of the cultural other

4. Self-control

5. Truth versus deception/ Perception versus reality

Through the teen protagonist in Ironman (Bo is a goal-oriented athlete), teenagers often see their own personal struggles. Like themselves, Bo Brewster is on a journey, striving to develop a sense of himself and the world around him. During this journey, both the reader and the main character will confront various situations that contribute to their developing sense of self. Bo must learn to control his anger through distinguishing truth from deception, while learning to take responsibility for his actions. The cultural issues of homosexuality and homophobia also proved a strong undercurrent for self reflection and exploration. Beau must cope with his role model’s admitted homosexuality and work out for himself his own beliefs and moral understanding. In the end, the text leaves the reader with a sense that Bo is on a more positive road to adulthood.