The Novel "God of Beer" and the Concept of Age Expectations
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The Novel "God of Beer" and the Concept of Age Expectations

Why we should stop limiting ourselves and our actions because of our age.

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The Novel "God of Beer" and the Concept of Age Expectations
Pixabay

I’m 108 pages into the Garret Keizer novel God of Beer, a touch under halfway of the total page count. The book, in short, is about teens living in rural Vermont near the end of their senior year in high school. Upon looking at the cover with its chalk-like block lettering, and the back cover using sentences such as “... they find there’s more to do than they ever imagined” to describe the book, you can tell this novel is tailored towards the young-adult readership. I thought the first 108 pages would have the classic YA tropes that have been riddling novels at my local bookstore for the past few years. I thought I would start reading a book about kids who party a little too much, or have had their front teeth stained yellow by the golden liquor in their Solo cups. I thought I was picking up a book that would be a digestible book I could flip through in two hours.

In actuality, while the novel does still have simple and classic YA easy-to-read beats (oh yes, there is a love interest, and the main character’s best friend has a quirky nickname), this novel surprised me with its depth. The novel immediately establishes its presence as a “thinking” novel. Within ten pages, the question is posed to the high school students in this novel How would God come to us? The question being based off of a teaching of Gandhi “...that if God ever came to India, he’d have to come in the form of bread because that is the only way that the starving masses of peasants would be able to understand him” (pg 4).

This novel isn’t just about kids in high school. It’s about religion, philosophy, social norms, and the concept and act of civil disobedience. God of Beer constantly presents a new philosophy or idea and hardly ever explains the answer to the reader — you have to think.

While there is so much to think about with Plot A of the novel (the questioning of the ideologies we have around alcohol and the meaning of its consumption), what has fascinated me most about this novel is Plot C (Plot B being just your basic love story). Plot C of God of Beer revolves around the character David Logan, a 21-year-old classic Vermont “hick” still stuck in high school because he can’t pass math. On the surface, we see the struggle of a boy who has trouble grasping what is being taught to him, needs extra help, and is discriminated against by some of his fellow students because of his “backwoods” background (a discrimination that is seen in Vermont schools all the time). Under the surface, however, David Logan adds a new layer to the already complex and varied themes in God of Beer: the concept of age expectations.

Half way through the novel, the main character, a friend of David’s, accidentally pulled David’s headphones out of his computer as David was listening to a recording. The recording was a math lesson — but it wasn’t a Khan Academy video, or a video “meant” for an older audience. It was a video made for kids around the first and second grade — a song teaching kids how to do basic multiplication through rhymes made by a puppet vampire on the screen. The video was “meant” for kids, and David was mortified he was caught listening to the song.

It was this mortified reaction a 21-year-old had, this outburst where he ran out of the room so quickly you would of thought his shoes were on fire, that really made me think. Why was he mortified? Why are we all ingrained with this thought that some things are not okay to do or enjoy when we hit a certain age? Why do we impose a certain amount of agism upon ourself and our actions?

I’ve always been a believer in staying young at heart. Just a week ago, I bought myself a big stuffed whale and named it Steven because whales are my favorite animal. A few days ago, my friends and I went to see the Power Rangers (2017) movie because we had all seen the TV show as children. My boyfriend and I watch the 1995 TV show Goosebumps together. When I’m sick, as I am right now, I still have the lingering desire to ask my mother to make me soup and curl up with a good book and I.

Maybe I am a bit of a Peter Pan, but I have never been a believer in the concept that I can no longer be young when I am old. I will always want to stop and run to the swings when I see a set. I will always want to go on goofy “young” adventures with my boyfriend and play boardgames with him and my friends. I will always desire the comfort of my mother in tough situations. Just because someone is an adult, doesn’t mean they should no longer be allowed to enjoy “youthful” aspects of their lives. Why? Because it makes them happy, and what makes you happy, what makes your endorphins release and a smile find its way across your face, should never be given up. If we stop doing what makes us happy, what are we even doing?

The same line of thinking can apply to David in God of Beer. Maybe the math song doesn’t necessarily make him happy, but it is helping him. His tutor eventually tells his friends that the elementary song had been one of the first methods to break through with his mathematical progress in months. He was finally learning. If this was the only way David could learn math, why shouldn’t he be using the song? Because he is too old? If we as a society tell David that he cannot listen to this song to help him learn because he’s 21-years-old and that the song is “meant” for an eight-year-old, are we just adding to the impediment of his learning?

Maybe you don’t realize you are implying agism upon yourself, or upon others, but consider what

God of Beer is saying: by limiting yourself, your happiness, your learning, or your life by your age, what are you gaining? Or are you just preventing something that could be, but, now, never will be?
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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