Sunday, November 3, 2013

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

"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), the Cutter All Night Mermen struggle to find their places in a school that has no place for them. T.J. is convinced that a varsity letter jacket–exclusive, revered, the symbol (as far as T.J. is concerned) of all that is screwed up at Cutter High–will also be an effective 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 soon becomes the space where they gradually allow themselves to talk, to fit, to grow. Together they’ll fight 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."

Dear lord. Okay, I wasn't exactly expecting to love this book as much as I did, but it managed to surprise me. In every single possible way. First of all, it was funny--sure, kind of a dark humor at times, but that's kinda my thing so 
I was into it. Serious humor factor. At the same time, I want to warn you: the author pulled no punches. Whatsoever. With anything. The emotions and back-stories and situations in this book are deep and intense and there are parts that made me just stop for a second and go, "What? Wait, that just happened?" And coming from someone who's seen her share of plot developments, that's saying something. I highly respect, too, the way that everything came full-circle in the end, nothing was forgotten. Reading a book like that is really powerful, especially with the subject matter in this particular book. I'd even go so far as to give this one 4.5 or 5 stars. I can't recommend it highly enough; this is one of the best books I've read in a while. It's hilarious and beautiful and terrible. Read it. Don't ask questions, just do it. It's at Kettleson, Sitka High, and Mt. Edgecumbe.

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