Thursday, March 25, 2010
A Controversial Writer - Intellectual Freedom
Author: Chris Crutcher
Publisher: Harper Teen
Recommended Grade Level: 9th - 12th
Ben Wolf, a smart-ass resident of Trout, Idaho, has learned that his senior year of high school will be his last year alive. He decides to keep his illness a secret from his family and friends. Instead of wallowing in his certain demise, Wolf embraces his remaining time and fully ponders his life, community, and several examples of social injustice. He makes life very difficult for a certain close-minded teacher, dates the girl of his dreams, has vivid conversations with Hey-Soos, and goes out for the football team. But, soon Ben discovers that he is not the only person in the small town keeping very large secrets.
For years I heard wonderful reviews of Crutcher's work, so I decided finally to try one of his novels. And, to be perfectly honest, it took awhile for me to get through this book. Crutcher uses a lot of football terminology that I just did not understand. But, once I devoted some time and effort into the book, I found that I could not put it down. I love to read, and I have gotten quite attached to some books that I've read throughout the years. But, this book is one of the few that actually made me cry. It haunted me for a few weeks. Yes, Crutcher is a controversial writer, and even I (a most mellow and even-tempered person, if I say so myself) found myself arguing with some of Wolf's (let's face it, Crutcher's) opinions. But, even if I did not agree with every opinion, I ended up admiring the bravery, intelligence, and kindness of the protagonist, Ben Wolf. I do believe that Crutcher has perfectly captured the reality of most young Americans.
As previously stated, Crutcher is a controversial writer, so, unless one is ready to fight parents, administration, and community members (most notably those in the Tea Party movement) to the bloody end, one might want to steer clear of his works. I would most certainly house his books upon a classroom shelf. And, maybe some time in the near future, I will take one of his books down and create a novel study assignment, but I'm not there yet.