Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Stotan (Chris Crutcher)

Title: Stotan
Author: Chris Crutcher
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 183
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: Chris Crutcher
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In the final swimming season at Frost High School, Coach Max Il Song offers his small but talented team the gift of self-discipline in the form of Stotan Week--a grueling four-hour-a-day, nonstop test of physical and emotional stamina designed to bring them to the outer edge of their capabilities. The four young men accept the challenge--and something none of them could have predicted is set in motion.

Review: I was a swimmer in high school and my first year of college. I lived and breathed swimming. I get what it takes to do early morning workouts in the dark when everyone else is asleep. I know what it feels like to stink of chlorine, to have shiny hair, and large shoulders. And I know how close a team can get. I cannot imagine the closeness of a team of four as in this book, the bond would be unbreakable.

Stotan. Super intense physically and emotionally. The idea is that the athlete gets past the pain and enters the no pain zone where it all comes together and makes sense. I did one workout like this in high school: 1000 yards of butterfly no stopping. Talk about getting into the zone.

This book, like all the Chris Crutcher books I've read so far, is about so much more than sports (or whatever the title would suggest). As he always does he has male high school characters who have close friendships, good female friends, and they deal with serious sh*t. There is abuse, bullying, racism, heartache, and pain. But there is also bonding, love, supporting each other, laughter, great adult role models, crying, and working through it all.

The book is a bit dated, having been written in 1986, but for me that was perfect. For our students now they may miss some of the cultural references, but the book is SO WORTH IT!


Geography Connection

(photo credit for the image of the swimmer goes to my mom. Yeah, it's an '80s film photo that we scanned so the quality isn't great, but it's me right before the 100 yard breaststroke finals in high school)

Click to see my updated Google Map. Eastern Washington state is the setting for Stotan and the only reason it's significant is because the team has no near by schools against whom to compete so they travel to Montana and Idaho, giving the characters bonding time that cannot be matched for bringing them close together.

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