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Thursday, August 28, 2008

DEADLINE!

DEADLINE!

Chris Crutcher has long been one of my favorite author – I will immediately put down whatever I am reading in favor of a new Crutcher novel – unless I’m reading a new Robert Parker novel, at which time I implode from trying to read both at once.

While Crutcher’s novels are to be found on the Young Adult shelves in bookstores, they defy the YA label – going far beyond any arbitrarily applied literary boundaries.

Crutcher’s latest, Deadline, does not disappoint. I rank it right up with my other personal Crutcher favorites: Whale Talk, Ironman, and the classic Stotan.

Like most of Cruther’s work, Deadline covers a lot of emotional ground. It’s a story of death and dying; of the nature of truth and the cost of lies; it’s about small town America (Trout, Idaho) and Malcom X; it’s about dysfunction and hope, football and craming the whole of a life into one very small timeframe.

When diminutive eighteen-year-old Ben Wolf is diagnosed with incurable lukemia, he decides to spend the next year living life for all it’s worth. To keep people from treating him differently, he doesn’t tell a soul about his condition – not even his major bi-polar mother, his understanding father, or his brother.

With the time he has left, Ben sets his sights on making his remaining time the best year ever. He decides to give up his status as the cross-country stud of his mall town (Trout, Idaho) High School and go out for the football team in hopes of starring alongside his quarterback brother.

He also vows to harras his narrow-minded civics teacher whenever possible – using ammunition from his two favorite books: Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Autobiography Of Malcom X. And last, but not least, Ben swears to make a run at the girl of his dreams, Dallas Suzuki.

His new go-for-broke attitude pays immediate dividens, but harboring his painful secret is harder than he ever could have imagined.

Crutcher revisits many of his familiar themes—death, child molestation, censorship and sports—but does so in the context of a startlingly heartrending plot that manages to be simultaneously wise and thought-provoking. As a writer, Crutcher has an amazing talent for taking the most complex ideas and distilling them to their truest forms, while never sounding preachy.

Crutcher's writing is often controversial and has been frequently challenged and even banned by individuals who want to censor his books by removing them from libraries and classrooms. His books generally feature athlete teens coping with serious problems, including abusive parents, racial and religious prejudice, mental and physical disabilities, and poverty. These themes are viewed in some quarters as too mature for his target audience. Other cited reasons for censorship include strong language and depictions of homosexuality. Despite this controversy, Crutcher's writing has received many awards and The American Library Association has named eight of his books as Best Books for Young Adults.


TO VISIT AUTHOR CRIS CRUTHER’S WEBSITE CLICK HERE

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