Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2. "Whale Talk" ~ Chris Crutcher


Crutcher is one of the best writers for young adult fiction today. He is to high school sports what Judy Blume was to hormone-hopping girls.

In Whale Talk, T.J. Jones, a mixed race high school senior ("I'm black. And Japanese. And white."), organizes a swimming team as a favor to a teacher and a snub to the stereotypical meathead jocks on the football team. Problem: T.J.'s high school doesn't have a pool. Or, by the meager response, much of a chance of winning.

The team grows tighter with each workout. T.J. banks his anger with the help of his lawyer-mom, Harley biker-dad, and uber-patient kid therapist.

A tightly scripted climax brings together all of the small town rivalries and ugliness. My only complaint is it felt over the top, but Crutcher is not one to play house. He brings his characters, faults and all, to life.

4.25 out of 5.0 Berry-Berries.

2006 Top Ten Banned Book - These are my assumptions and opinions about the reasoning behind banning and/or challenged books, which I will toss in at the end of a review.

In this case, language ("nigger," "asshole," and "bitch" are thrown around a bit), mixed race babies (hmm, don't kids have the sex ed. talk in middle school?), an angry teenager who stands up to authority (don't want to teach students to think for themselves, now, would we?).

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