Deadline - Chris Crutcher

Beware the short terminal guy with nothing to lose.

Just before the beginning of senior year, Ben Wolf learned that he has a terminal illness, and probably has about a year to live. Going against his doctor's advice, he decides to forgo treatment and doesn't tell a soul. Instead, he tries out for football, asks out Dallas Suzuki, girl of his dreams, and tries to get as much "real" education as he can.

Deadline is a really well-written book that makes you feel like it could be a high school senior telling the story. Sure, he's got a better grasp of language than what I remember from being in high school, but he's supposed to be a bit of a brain, and a smart-aleck. That means there's four-letter words and raging hormones, and it's at least PG-13, but I still think it'd be a good one for high-schoolers because of the way it treats some of the bigger issues. (I just have one category for "kid lit" but this is more appropriately "young adult" stuff.) Plus there are some laugh-out-loud really imaginative metaphors and colorful phrases that I can't imagine a high schooler would write, but an adult probably wouldn't say, either.

Ben lives in Trout, Idaho, population 934, which bears some similarities to where we're living now. It's a mostly white, mostly conservative population. So when Ben decides to start reading books like Lies My Teacher Told Me or The Autobiography of Malcolm X, there's not a whole lot of support for his new interests.

Some of the things are too fairy-tale-like and hard to believe, like the ease of getting the girl or becoming a football hero. But despite that, Crutcher tackles some big issues in a pretty realistic way. Death and dying, of course, but also sexual abuse, bigotry, redemption, mental illness. Ben Wolf talks about actual books, which is something I haven't come across too often in young adult literature. Crutcher definitely has an agenda here and is hoping kids will challenge the status quo.

There are some things that I don't agree with, but overall I think it's a good book that could get teenagers really thinking about some important issues in a way that a non-fiction book won't. It's one that I think would be really good for a parent to read and discuss with their teenager.

Fed to jonathan's brain | November 06, 2007 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Remember Me?