Crush: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Love

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Crush: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Love
Author(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
May 08, 2012
ISBN
978-0385742306
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Readers met the comical Kevin in Liar, Liar and Flat Broke. In Crush, Kevin gets serious about Tina Zabinski, the Most Beautiful Girl in the World. Finally, finally, he's worked up his courage - he's going to ask her out. Or will his trademark scheming get in his way?

Editor reviews

2 reviews

I've got a crush on CRUSH
(Updated: May 11, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
There are heaps of middle-grade books about girls falling in love, and good thing too, since it’s an important piece of the growing-up puzzle. CRUSH, by Gary Paulsen, offers a rarer (and wonderful!) point of view – that of a boy in love for the first time. From my old-lady perspective, it’s a charming insight into how a boy might process this new experience, and the tween girl in me is gratefully surprised to know that boys are also apt to tie themselves in knots for love.

CRUSH picks up where Liar Liar left off. Kevin has noticed and fallen logical head over illogical heels in love with Tina Zabinski. Of course, Kevin being who he is, nothing is simple to begin with, and if there's a way to make things more complicated, he'll find it. So instead of just asking Tina out, as his buddy JonPaul advises, Kevin decides to observe, evaluate and study the concept of romance as played out by his parents, by his sister, by his friends, by his thrice-married aunt… indeed, anywhere but in his own life. He explores the relationships around him, hoping all the while that he will discover the magic ingredient that will make it possible for him to sweep Tina off her feet, instead of simply dissolving into incoherent goo whenever he’s near her. Hilarity (as they say) ensues, but the hijinks never drift into the unbelievable, and never exchange truth for laughs. The story is funny, but it’s also achingly true.

Perhaps that is the single best descriptor of CRUSH (and a great deal of Paulsen’s other writing). It is true. And because it is true, it matters. You root for Kevin, even when he’s getting in his own way. You believe him when he tells you that he’d make a good boyfriend, and you turn pages, hoping that this will be the moment he comes to his senses and just talks to the girl he likes.

Gary Paulsen makes his reader wait until the very last sentence in the book for resolution, and yet the ending is so utterly satisfying that you don’t mind. Instead, the very act of closing the book is like a sigh of pleasure, a closing of tired eyes at the end of a full day. Things are perfect in that moment. All is well.
Good Points
Funny and (dare I say it) heart-warming
Utterly satisfying
Welcome opportunity to read about a boy's experience of first love
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Be careful not to set the dining room on fire!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Kevin has decided that it's not enough to just have a crush on the beautiful Tina. He is going to do some serious research and figure out how he can ask her out and get her to say yes. He sets up a romantic dinner for his parents and observes them from a closet-- and sees the cat sit on the pasta and then set the table on fire. He asks his sister's friends to give him advice, and they tell him he dresses like he just came from the scene of a natural disaster. He successfully sets up his brother and his hockey team with girls who also ice skate. He "observes" his best friend JonPaul (who really deserves a book of his own; I love his laconic personality!) on a date with Sam and is befuddled by how boring it is. (After doing homework for 47 minutes and working on some beaded necklaces, they fall asleep. "JonPaul's idea of dating was a whole lot like Markie's preschool's idea of quite time, only without the duck mats and blankies." Page 60) Finally, at an anniversary party where Kevin sees all the people he has fixed up, he finally gets to talk to Tina, who has wondered why he has been so preoccupied and has been ignoring her!

Good Points
Ah, Mr. Paulsen. Please continue to write these charming books for a very long time, and keep the same small format and great covers. The two copies each of Liar, Liar and Flat Broke that I never make it back to the shelf. (And yes, if you haven't read them, you need to!) If I had to buy birthday presents for a 12 year old boy, I'd get the whole set in hardcover.
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