A year to live. Really live. — “Deadline” by Chris Crutcher

I’m not generally one who reads a lot of Young Adult Literature.  No offense to the great writers who produce the stuff, but it’s just generally not my taste. I didn’t enjoy high school enough to want to revisit it, you know?

However, after attending the Banned Books Week 2010 Readout last Saturday, I stood in line and got a signed copy of “Deadline” by event emcee and frequently-challenged author Chris Crutcher himself.

So I read the book.  And really sincerely enjoyed it.

Pint-sized Ben Wolf is about to enter his senior year of high school.  He runs track, and during his preseason physical, he finds out he’s got a blood disease and probably has a year to live.  Rather than tell people and go through painful (and probably not helpful) treatment, he invokes his right to confidentiality – being eighteen – and proceeds to spend his last months living the life he wanted:  Joining the football team, challenging teachers set in old-school ways, and by going after a super-cool and popular girl.

The book is actually a lot darker than I expected it to be.  There’s no happy last-minute ending for Ben, the super-cool girl has sincerely dark secrets of her own, and the town drunk Ben befriends turns out to have a seriously dark past of his own.  There’s talk of sex, lots of foul language, pedophilia, and racism.

No wonder Crutcher finds himself banned a lot.

That said, I think it’s a book high-school me would have really enjoyed.  Being a teen isn’t rosy and filled with joyous homecoming dances. It’s really hard stuff, and I think if young people can find comfort in Young Adult literature, then more power to them.

I’d definitely be interested to pick up another Crutcher book down the line.


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on September 27, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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