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Review: Whale Talk (Crutcher)

Title: Whale Talk
Author: Chris Crutcher
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 220
Challenges: YA, POC
Rating: 5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap): 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 Nigh Mermen struggle to carve out their own turf. TJ is convinced that a varsity letter jacket--unattainable for most, exclusive, revered, the symbol (as far as TJ 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.

Review: No student should finish high school without reading Chris Crutcher! This is the second book by him that I've read in the past 3 days and I loved this one as much as Angry Management. Crutcher has a way with characters, plot, emotion, and finesse.

  • Characters--All the characters are so real in this book. From the small bi-racial girl who is warped by her bigoted "father" to the main character who wants to fix all the wrongs in the world to the cast of the swim team, all outsiders who just want to be accepted and not have to hang out alone. I believed every one of them and could understand where they were coming from. Well, not the racist a**holes, but I have met people like them and Crutcher did a great job at portraying their anger and fear.
  • Plot--I swam in high school and part of college so the swim team stuff was great for me. But, even if you never swim, you'll like this one. A swim team is just the vehicle for the rest of the story: hatred, fear, family, loyalty, overcoming obstacles, and more.
  • Emotion--I love it when a book makes me feel something. While reading this book I was angry, disgusted, afraid for the characters, sad, and hopeful. What a ride!
What's your favorite Chris Crutcher book?


Athira said...

Now you have me curious about Crutcher! I should have a look at this one and Angry Management.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--I feel I've made this amazing discovery by reading Chris Crutcher! I hope you like him as well.

MissA said...

Hooray you liked it! I actually cried at the end, I was so emotionally invested in this story. I want to meet T.J. :) The racists in this story made me want to scream or throw something.

Wonderful review. I'm going to work on getting Angry Management soon.

Helen's Book Blog said...

MissAttitude--I also got choked up more than once reading this book! Isn't TJ just the best?! He's the kind of person I'd like my daughter to grow up to be: caring, knowing right from wrong, and working for the underdog.

Stephanie said...

This sounds great! I have got to try some of Chris Crutcher's work.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Stephanie--I am brand new to Chris Crutcher's books and am really enjoying them so far!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

I honestly can't remember if I've read this one! I think so, though. I haven't read much Crutcher lately, but he always stands out in my mind as an important author to have in the collection - good to have such well-written "boy books!" I really enjoyed Ironman.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Librarian--This is definitely a great boy book. People are also telling me to read his Staying Fat for Sarah Byrne so I've added that one to my TBR list