There’s something really wrong with me, because every time I pick up a Chris Crutcher book, I love it and really connect with it, yet I’m always hesitating to read his stories. He writes really raw, honest characters who have messy lives, and his stories are both unique and unexpected, while still being easy to relate to.
This gem with an ugly cover is about a teen boy who starts up a ragtag swim team full of unlikely athletes, in order to prove a point to the overreaching athletics committee that tries to rule the school. The story is full of diversity and unexpected friendships, and there’s a lot going on here, which I personally enjoyed. It makes a few big points, and it makes them loud, which is a strategy that I don’t always like. I’m usually a big fan of subtlety and letting the reader take away what they choose to take away. However, they are things that not enough teen novels speak to and that are so good for struggling or at-risk teens to hear and think about, so I can’t help but appreciate that.
I wish I head read this book while still teaching, because I can think of several kids right now that I could and would have handed this to. It would have been both a book they really needed but also one that I think they would have really loved.
Let’s hope I don’t wait another year or two to pick up my next Chris Crutcher book. Also, as an aside, I sat in a session with the author at a lit festival, and he’s really a great guy. After hearing him talk so openly and honestly about kids, his work, and his writing, I basically wanted to go out and buy all of his books, which is how I ended up with Whale Talk in the first place. Why I didn’t immediately read it probably has more to do with the cover than anything else, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit that.
Book 110 read in 2018