Ben Wolf has big things planned for his senior year. Had big things planned. Now what he has is some very bad news and only one year left to make his mark on the world.
How can a pint-sized, smart-ass seventeen-year-old do anything significant in the nowheresville of Trout, Idaho?
First, Ben makes sure that no one else knows what is going on—not his superstar quarterback brother, Cody, not his parents, not his coach, no one. Next, he decides to become the best 127-pound football player Trout High has ever seen; to give his close-minded civics teacher a daily migraine; and to help the local drunk clean up his act.
And then there's Dallas Suzuki. Amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki, who may or may not give Ben the time of day. Really, she's first on the list.
Living with a secret isn't easy, though, and Ben's resolve begins to crumble . . . especially when he realizes that he isn't the only person in Trout with secrets.
DEADLINE, Chinese translation cover art, 2012
"Crutcher’s oeuvre is full of plot-heavy novels; the issues crammed into this one include alcoholism, child molestation, absent/abusive parents, bigotry, teenage motherhood and depression. But the narrative never drowns in a sea of woe .... The message at the core of Crutcher’s latest—“Life’s short. Do what you love.”—is delivered inside an entertaining, thought-provoking tearjerker. " Publishers WeeklyStarred Review
"Crutcher revisits many of his familiar themes—death, child molestation, censorship and sports—but does so in the context of a startlingly heartrending plot that manages to be simultaneously wise, thought-provoking, occasionally maddening and frequently very, very funny. Ben’s intelligence, zeal and sarcastic humor not only win him friends and help him cope with his diagnosis; they also make for an engaging narrative that balances wit with pathos." —NORAH PIEHL, Bookpage
"Emotionally spare but deeply touching, the relationship between Ben and his brother will resonate with many readers, while others may find the several strong father figures comforting. Secondary characters add humor and balance...,Crutcher uses dark humor and self-deprecation effectively to avoid maudlin situations, and teens will appreciate the respectful tone of the work."--Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library School Library Journal
"... as usual, Crutcher writes vivid sports action scenes, and teens' interest will be held by the story's dramatic premise, Ben's unlikely turn as a football hero, love scenes with Dallas (including some mildly explicit sex), and Ben's high-gear pursuit of life's biggest questions. " Booklist
OhMiGod I just read the most amazingly insightful book! And that’s saying a LOT since I’ve devoured the likes of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Dante’s Inferno (the most uplifting of Alighieri’s Divine Comedy if we’re being sarcastic).
So Borders aka-the greatest bookstore excluding online mega-reatiler Amazon.com only because I can physically touch the inventory- is closing. Like, for good. Naturally, I grazed their dwindling stock several times this past week. About $200 and 40 books later, I have enough reading to last me through the month. You think I jest, but I made my way through 4 books in 5 days and one of those days ways Sunday in which I was busy with a nasty little stomach bug (thanks a lot Daniel) that left me mildly dizzy and wholly cranky. I ventured away from my normal YA fantasy selections because at 40% off, why not try something new? In addition to some great business books, I picked up Chris Crutcher’s Deadline.
This book is a life changer. Eighteen year old Ben Wolf just found out he has less than one year to live. He decides to live his senior year to its fullest, but as normal as possible, which means keeping the truth of his illness to himself. But life is never that easy. Although some of the situations are fantastical and sensationalized, it’s more a reminder of the situations we face in life. Irony abounds and Ben learns the truth about people in his small town while hiding his own truths.
Above all, Deadline is MORBIDLY HYSTERICAL. I laughed until it was time to cry. Notably, Ben is a smart-ass and his impending fate only gives him strength to unleash all his thoughts with no consequences. I mean, if you didn’t have to worry about a diploma and life after graduation, wouldn’t you be tempted to torment your teachers? Although his motives aren’t entirely pure, Ben is fueled by the need to educate himself with as much truth as possible, despite his big lie. It’s inherently sad and hugely thought-provoking material.
The best dialogue, by far, that make me rate this book as TOP-NOTCH are the many interactions Ben has with Hey-Soos. The philosophical Hey-Soos (who will neither confirm nor deny if he’s Jesus or just a representation of Ben’s inner conscience, though we have our suspicions) visits Ben in his dreams and grants pearls of wisdom in a comical self-evaluating way. Hey-Soos offers heavy guidance in a perfect blend of spiritual reverence and religious mockery. For example, an excerpt of a particularly poignant conversation between Hey-Soos and Ben::
“So,” (Hey-Soos) says, “you rang?” “Did I?” “You meant to.” “You mean because of what Dallas said?” “Duh” “‘Duh?’ That’s not exactly otherworldly.” “‘Duh’ is universal. do you know how many people she’s told?” I say I don’t. “Well,” he says, “as she might put it, if she tells one more that will be two.” “No shit?” “Are you sure that’s the way you want to talk to the likes of me?” “No kidding?” “No shit,” Hey-Soos says.
Bottom line is I finished this book in less than a day but the emotions incited will last a lifetime. However long that will be.
Above Inspired by DEADLINE
My daughter Verna Curfman and her friend, Elizabeth Deemer, heard you speak last week at the English Festival at Youngstown State University. They attended your lecture on your book "Deadline." The girls wrote a choral piece based on your book for the Jeremy Salvner Music Composition Competition of the festival and it took 1st place!
They told me that when you spoke about the book being on grief, they looked at each other because that is what the song is about. Time moving on and having your memories to get you through your sadness. This year, our high school lost two young men in separate auto accidents. One was a classmate, a senior in their choir, the other a sophomore who was in the band with them. They wrote the song in their memory - "This song is dedicated to our friends that did not have the chance to say goodbye and to the grief that we all have been feeling this year."
Their choir director, Jonny Priano, allowed them to teach the song to the Wilmington Area High School Women's Choir (New Wilmington, PA) and, after hearing them perform it for the recording that was sent for the competition, he had them direct the girls for the Mid-Winter Choir Concert. I have attached the youtube link to the performance. Verna directed and Elizabeth played the piano. I hope you enjoy hearing their interpretation of your story.