Deadline (by Chris Crutcher)

22 03 2013

deadlineChris Crutcher has been around for so long now that has was already given the Edwards Award from the ALA in 1997, recognizing his “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature” and yet, his novels have long stayed under the cat’s radar. He would probably have stayed there, if I hadn’t been looking for books that in some way dealt with “sports”, to accommodate some really difficult readers… teenage jocks… As such I came across Joshua C. Cohen’s Leverage, Geoff Herbach’s Stupid Fast and Nothing Special, and also Chris Crutcher’s Deadline (2007).

Deadline has a premise that is at once commonplace and ingenious: what if you only had one year to live…and you knew it? That is what happens to Ben Wolf, the 18-year-old protagonist of Deadline, who during his annual routine physical, hears from his doctor that he’s suffering from a very aggressive blood disease. Instead of taking the pity road, Ben decides not to tell anyone. Not his parents, not his brother Cody, not his teachers, his coach, no one… Instead he is going to keep it a secret and live the last year of his life doing things he would otherwise never have done. He’s joining the football team (even though he’s actually really tiny!), goes after his dream girl Dallas Suzuki, and challenges his Civil studies teacher until he turns all shades of red because Ben wants to rename one of his town’s streets into Malcolm X Avenue.

And man, Crutcher has the teen voice down! Yes, there’s lots of angst going on (Ben’s dying, duh!), and soul-searching is an inevitability when you have a year to live. But in his search for truth, Ben manages to keep his humor – often brilliantly merged in his dream conversations with Hey-Soos… yes, that’s Jesus in Spanish… And if a cocktail of death and humor isn’t enough for you, what about the value of truth, book banning, civil (dis)obedience…?

The cat is really glad she found out about Chris Crutcher. Even though there are no “girl books” and “boy books”, books like Deadline are a lot easier to sell to reluctant male teen readers (who are definitely more abundant than reluctant female teen readers) than the next Sophie Kinsella or Nicholas Sparks bunk. Deadline comes highly recommended!



One response

22 12 2013
The year 2013 in reading | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] figured out you can’t go wrong with Chris Crutcher (Deadline, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Whale Talk) or with garden gnomes on book covers (Jordan […]

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