Review Detail

Whale Talk Featured
Young Adult Fiction 1432
Great New Cover on a Classic
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

T.J. lives in a small conservative Northwest town where his mixed race heritage sets him apart. He was adopted by a couple who have their own issues, but are very supportive and as understanding as parents of a teen can be. After a run in with Rich Marshall, a local hunter and supporter of school athletics, Mr. Simet suggests that T.J. channel his energy and start a school swim team. There are challenges, like having to practice at the All Night pool, but soon T.J. has assembled a collection of quirky misfits from his school and is leading the team. Mr. Simet is very busy, but promises to help in a bit, and the group gets support from an unlikely source in Oliver, an older man who is living in the All Night gym and trying to avoid detection. Finishing up high school and applying to colleges is hard enough, but T.J. finds himself getting enmeshed in the life of Heidi, a girl he meets through the therapist he still occasionally see. Heidi is the daughter of the woman Rich Marshall loved in high school... and a black man who was later paralyzed in a sports accident. Marshall is terribly abusive, and Heidi ends up being cared for by T.J.'s family. Heidi's mother occasionally stays with them, and Rich frequently shows up at the house trying to get to his family. The swim team does well, and T.J. is able to improve his own situation, but things worsen with Heidi's. It doesn't help when T.J. sees high school girls in abusive relationships and tries to understand why they stay. When a tragedy occurs, T.J. finds out some family secrets which help him go on with his life.
Good Points
Crutcher writes compelling stories, and uses his background as a counselor to add riveting details. This was originally written in 2001, so there are a few things that feel dated. T.J. and Heidi's racial background might still be unusual in the Northwest, but it is very common in Ohio. Unfortunately, the domestic abuse issues are all too fresh. T.J.'s father is a Vietnam veteran who had trouble readjusting to civilian life; today, someone of that age would be a grandparent. The book holds up well, but it doesn't hurt to alert readers that it is an older title in case they have questions.

The details about swimming are great. Mr. Crutcher must have been a competitive swimmer, and perhaps even a coach. It's good to see T.J. finding a positive outlet for his anger management issues, and also to see him take a positive leadership role. Interim Coach Oliver is an interesting addition to the group of athletes, all of whom face challenges of their own.

Crutcher is a master of the young adult problem novel, and his books should be on the top of the To Be Read pile of all fans of John Green, Carl Deuker, and Miranda Kenneally.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Bernard Makes a Splash
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming story from textile designer and illustrator Lisa Stickley...
Wild Girl: How to Have Incredible Outdoor Adventures
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Calling wild girls everywhere! Helen Skelton – adventurer, world-record breaker...
Stanley's Paint Box
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
It’s another busy day with Stanley and friends! ...
The Unleashed
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the terrifying sequel to The Haunted, Hendricks discovers that...
Paint by Sticker Kids: Dinosaurs: Create 10 Pictures One Sticker at a Time!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Create pictures of 10 awesome dinosaurs... with stickers! ...
Tad
Tad
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
From Benji Davies, the award-winning creator of The Storm Whale...
Go Get 'Em, Tiger! (A Hello!Lucky Book)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The perfect picture book to celebrate every milestone from the...
A World of Opposites
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From ALONE and TOGETHER to ABOVE and BELOW, Gray Malin’s...
The Voting Booth
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love...
Now & When
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Jenny Han and Christine Riccio comes a...
Dating Makes Perfect
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because...
Now That I've Found You
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Now That I've Found You is a YA novel about...

Latest Member Reviews

Corpse & Crown (Cadaver & Queen, #2)
 
4.0
"Adding in the characters of Oliver Twist to the unique world of Bio-mechanicals created in the first book, this stand-alone..."
The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
 
4.7
"We follow 18 year old Aileana on a hard mission. She's the last of the Falconers, which means she is..."
Dearly, Departed (Gone with the Respiration #1)
 
4.0
"This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/2017/01/dearly-departed-by-lia-habel.html In 2195, Nora is living in New Victoria, a place..."
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)
 
4.0
"4.5 stars! This was definitely one amazing series. Worth reading for those who liked The Mortal Instruments and even those..."
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)
 
5.0
"From ballgowns and bowler hats, to parties and prototypes, Curtsies & Conspiracies will capture your attention, your mind and your..."
Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1)
 
4.7
"Gail Carriger should be in charge of the educational system. Imagine a world where young men learn the skills..."
Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)
 
3.3
"I finally got around to finishing this series and I read it straight through, for the most part. It did..."
Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)
 
3.3
"Okay. I admit. This book was kinda awesome. If you can get past the 100 or so pages of..."
Incarceron
 
3.7
"**spoiler alert** I loved it! So very fascinating and..."
Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)
 
5.0
"What I loved: THIS is how you end a trilogy, my friends. Like a freaking BAMF. Seriously, I had my..."
The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
 
3.3
"The Falconer is quite the genre mashup—a Victorian-era Scottish mythos-based paranormal YA, with just enough hints of steam punk to..."
The League of Seven (The League of Seven #1)
 
4.0
" In an alternate 1870s where First Nations people compose a large portion of the country, Archie's parents are..."
The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
 
5.0
"Mystical. Magical. Some books just wrap you up in their spell. I know this is what happened..."
The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
 
3.7
"Note: This review is of the British edition published by Gollancz. I've heard it might be different. What I..."
Something Strange and Deadly
 
3.3
"This book was amazing. It was well-written but it disappointed me at the same time. The story itself was so..."
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)
 
4.3
"I must be completely honest right up front – I’m a huge fan of Gail Carriger’s. I adored her..."
Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1)
 
5.0
"No dumbing down for a Young Adult audience in this wonderful start to the Finishing School series. Instead, the author..."
The Osiris Curse (Tweed & Nightingale Adventures #2)
 
4.0
"In Crilley's follow-up to "The Lazarus Machine," 'detectives' Octavia Nightingale and Sebastian Tweed jump right into another world-altering adventure, chasing..."
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)
 
5.0
"I would have to say out of all three books the third one was my favorite though I almost cried..."
Incarceron
 
4.0
" A refreshingly original piece. I'd initially been recommended it as a prime example of the budding Steampunk sub-genre, though..."