Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
I will start off by saying that I don't think this Chris Crutcher book is written for middle schoolers. Mature 8th graders, maybe, but it's not for everyone. It had been a few years since I had read a Chris Crutcher book, and once again I was just blown away by his writing. This is a book I would recommend to teenagers as well as adults. It's almost a cliché to have a teen novel with characters who are mentally ill, dying, abused, etc. etc. Yet somehow Chris Crutcher can take a whole bunch of big real-life problems and weave them into a book that is believable and touching and also hilarious at times. Here's the story in a nutshell: Ben Wolf finds out before his senior year that he is dying of an aggressive blood disease. He's 18 years old and he refuses treatment and refuses to let his doctor tell his parents because he wants to live his last year to the fullest. His big plans are a) to go out for the football team (he's a tiny guy), b) to go after a smart, attractive classmate he's had his eye on, and c) to stick it to his conservative social studies teacher by campaigning to name a street in town after Malcolm X. The setting is great—Trout, Idaho has 943 residents, and they love their football heroes. This book is all about football and love and telling the truth and racism and living life to the fullest. Parts of the book are mature, and it's also pretty deep at times. I think the philosophy and the humor would be most appreciated by high school students.