A provocative and heart-wrenching novel about family, loss, and loyalty from acclaimed and bestselling author Chris Crutcher. Losers Bracket is the powerful and gripping new novel by the author of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and Whale Talk. When it comes to family, Annie is in the losers bracket. While her foster parents are great (mostly), her birth family would not have been her first pick. And no matter how many times Annie tries to write them out of her life, she always gets sucked back into their drama. Love is like that. But when a family argument breaks out at Annie’s swim meet and her nephew goes missing, Annie might be the only one who can get him back. With help from her friends, her foster brother, and her social service worker, Annie puts the pieces of the puzzle together, determined to find her nephew and finally get him into a safe home. Award-winning author Chris Crutcher’s books are strikingly authentic and unflinchingly honest. Losers Bracket is by turns gripping, heartbreaking, hopeful, and devastating, and hits the sweet spot for fans of Andrew Smith and Marieke Nijkamp.
The language in this, as is usual for Crutcher, is "gritty and realistic", which means there are multiple uses of profanity, including the f-bomb. Situations found in young adult fiction are notably absent, but there is a fair amount of descriptions of the abuse Annie and Frankie have suffered.
The inclusion of swimming is fantastic-- aside from this author's Whale Talk, Calame's Swim the Fly, Crossan's The Weight of Water, Dominy's A Matter of Heart and Luurtsema's Goldfish, there aren't that many books about swimming published for young adults. Readers who like to read about people whose lives are worse than their own (and there are a lot of readers who do!) will find that Crutcher's book, while dealing with serious issues, treats them with constructive levels of hope. It's easy to envision a successful life for Annie, even though it might not be an easy one.