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Whale Talk (Laurel Leaf Books)by Chris Crutcher
Synopses & Reviews
There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway.
A group of misfits brought together by T. J. Jones (the J is redundant) to find their places in a school that has no place for them, the Cutter All Night Mermen struggle to carve out their own turf. T. J. is convinced that a varsity letter jacket — unattainable for most, exclusive, revered, the symbol (as far as T. J. is concerned) of all that is screwed up at Cutter High — will be an effective carving tool. He's right. He's also wrong.
Still, it's always the quest that counts. And the bus on which the Mermen travel to swim meets — piloted by Icko, the permanent resident of All, Night Fitness — soon becomes the cocoon inside which they gradually allow themselves to talk, to fit, to bloom.
Chris Crutcher is in top form with a cast of characters — adults, children, and teenagers — fighting for dignity in a world where tragedy and comedy dance side by side, where a moment's inattention can bring lifelong heartache, and where true acceptance is the only prescription for what ails us.
"[G]ripping...a frank, powerful message about social issues and ills....The book's shocking climax will force readers to re-examine their own values and may cause them to alter their perception of individuals pegged as 'losers.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"[A] compulsively readable story that rings true with genuine feeling and is propelled by exhilarating swimming action to anending that is both cataclysmic and triumphant. A welcome return." Kirkus Reviews
"The veteran author once again uses well-constructed characters and quick pacing....Through it all, as expected, shines Crutcher's sympathy for teens and their problems." Booklist
"Crutcher is one of the best YA authors around....Told with passion and humor, this is a real winner." KLIATT
"Crutcher captures perfectly the emotions and humor of teens facing injustices. His sensitive treatment imparts dignity and depth to kids that are different while telling one whale of an entertaining story." Children's Literature
"Young adults with a taste for melodrama will undeniably enjoy this effort. More discerning readers will have to look harder for the lovely passages and truths that aren't delivered with a hammer." School Library Journal
"Crutcher is at his darkest but also his funniest here, and the book conveys his most timely message — forgiveness, not revenge." VOYA
"Kids read Chris Crutcher because his works speak for them; he advocates in a manner that adults should pay attention to, as well." Alan Review
The Cutter All Night Mermen, a group of seven misfits who are members of a makeshift swim team, come together to challenge their high school's sports culture and fight for dignity in a world where a moment's inattention can bring lifelong heartache.
About the Author
Chris Crutcher grew up in Cascade, Idaho, and now lives in Spokane, Washington. He is the critically acclaimed author of six novels and a collection of short stories for teenagers, all chosen as ALA Best Books. In 2000, he was awarded the American Library Association's Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution in writing for teens. Drawing on his experience as an athlete, teacher, family therapist, and child protection specialist, he unflinchingly writes about real and often-ignored issues that face teenagers today.
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