Author: Chris Crutcher
Rating: 5 out of 5
Challenges: GLBT, YA, POC
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the inside flap): Every kid in this group wants to fly. Every kid in this group has too much ballast. Mr. Nak's Angry Management group is a place for misfits. A place for stories. And, man, does this crew have stories. There's Angus Bethune and Sarah Byrnes, who can hide from everyone but each other. Together, they will embark on a road trip full of haunting endings and glimmering beginnings. And Montana West, who doesn't step down from a challenge. Not even when the challenge comes form her adoptive dad, who's leading the school board to censor the article she wrote for the school paper. And straight-laced Matt Miller, who had never been friends with outspoken genius Marcus James. Until one tragic week--a week they'd do anything to change--brings them closer than Matt could have ever imagined.
Review: Oh. My. Gosh. What an amazing book! How have I not read any Chris Crutcher before now?! Now I need to see what other Crutcher books we have in the library so I can read more of them.
Crutcher creates characters that are so good, so true. They are insecure, bigoted, scared, angry, and funny. Any reader will find someone to connect to in this book. And, it turns out, they have all made appearances in other books by Chris Crutcher. This novel has 3 main parts, each one dedicated to one pair that is in Mr. Nak's angry management group. We get to know them so well so quickly and really see why they are in the self-help group.
In addition to awesome characters this book deals with hot button issues, but not in an inflammatory, in-you-face way. The overarching theme is intolerance, but in each story it takes on a different form. For Sarah and Angus it's intolerance for the way people look (hugely overweight and badly scarred) and domestic violence. In Montana West's story the first amendment and free speech are central issues as well as the foster care system. In the final story Matt and Marcus deal with bigotry and hate, which move the story along in a way that involved recent politics and news stories.
If you have not read this book I highly recommend it. If you have read Chris Crutcher books, which is your favorite?