From time to time, the works of Chris Crutcher are challenged by individuals and organizations opposed to the use of power stories in public education. Instead of trusting the well trained experts hired by their school boards -- librarians and teachers with years of academic training behind every literary selection they make -- these people challenge the use of fictional stories.
When that happens, those librarians and teachers are not alone. When that happens, Chris Crutcher is on their side. Years of experience have taught him how to assist educators in defending their curriculum choices, and those defense materials are available here. But if you have additional needs or requests, please let us know. Chris is always available for newpaper, radio and television interviews. Written and video responses for school board meetings are always possible. And if he's scheduled to be in your area, an in-person response could be an option.
If you have additional suggestions for materials that might be helpful, let CC''s assistant Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) know, and she'll add them to the page ASAP.
School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, 18-year-old Ben Wolf elects to forgo treatment and keep his illness secret from his family and friends in an attempt to have a "normal" senior year at his small Idaho high school. Free from long-term consequences, he connects with his crush, frustrates his biased U.S. Government teacher, and tries out for football. However, Ben's illness slowly exacts its toll on him, and he begins to realize the consequences of keeping his condition hidden. Crutcher brings his signature blend of sports action and human emotion to this powerful novel. 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, though the government teacher's voice occasionally veers too far toward that of a right-wing pundit. Rudy McCoy, a former priest and child molester, evokes both compassion and revulsion through his confession of guilt and struggle to avoid hurting another child; reflecting Ben's secret-keeping behavior, McCoy serves as a foil for the destructive impact secrets can have. Some discussion of sexual molestation and child abuse is present in the text, but is not graphic or overwhelming in its depiction. 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
... 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.
Norah Piehl - Bookpage
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.
This is no-holds-barred Crutcher at his best. As a counselor, he knows about the struggles that all people must deal with in their lives and how to survive with them. While the premise of the year-deadline alone would be enough to make for an emotional novel, each of the supporting characters and their demons add power to every page.
This new novel, exploring how various people reflect on life choices and how to face death, fits an existential pattern. Sartre would be intrigued. Following a routine athletic physical, eighteen-year-old Ben Wolf learns that he has leukemia. He opts to use HIPPA, medical privacy law, in choosing not to inform anyone-even his own family. That choice shapes his terminal year, as he tries a contact sport, overtly challenges a narrow-minded teacher, boosts his courage with a beautiful volleyball player, and befriends the town drunk. The town is Trout, Idaho, football is an eight-man game, and Lou Banks from Crutcher's Running Loose (Greenwillow, 1983/VOYA April 1983) is the insightful coach/English teacher. Could any setting be more inviting? As usual, Crutcher does not hesitate to incorporate serious subject matter within an engaging first-person narrative. Sexual abuse from family to clergy, suicide, mental illness, racism-all topical in the twenty-first century-are woven into the observations of the narrator. Exemplifying classic Crutcher, Ben's sensitive voice uses self-deprecating humor, philosophical pondering, and effective dramatic irony. By page three, readers are quite certain of the novel's painful outcome: Ben will die. But choices, risks, challenges, and joyful events make the journey with Ben so worth the time and trip. Whether facing physical limitations, making a stand, or telling the truth, Ben is a teen hero for whom readers cannot help but cheer. What a pleasure it is to revisit a familiar setting.
DEADLINE Reader Response Letters
April 17, 2008
Dear Mr. Crutcher, You probably don't remember me but when you came down to Tampa, Florida and talked at a coffee shop I was there. I had extremely long blonde hair and I was really tall. You signed and gave me your personal copy of "King of the mild frontier" your personal biography. You told me to go to your web site and get your E-mail and E-mail you about your new upcoming book " Deadline". You were going to send a copy of it before it came out so I could read it because I told you that I was a football player and etc. But its my fault for not contacting you. Well right before I got my hands on your new book from my English teacher, I had a terrible football accident where I broke my neck and suffered head trauma and developed tumors from the injury. I read your book and it really touched me. I think that book is a split image of my life. Everything is identical. My best friend is named Jesus but I spell his name "hey-soos" and some doctors are saying I have limited time and others say that I will be ok. And there are some other things in the book that are identical to my life like the football part and my best friend was raped unfortunately. I was really moved by it. Now I am not one of those fanatical freaks who freak out about their favorite author or movie star being in town or something but I just want you to know I was really touched by it. If there are any upcoming books or if you are coming into town please let me know. You are truly my favorite author. I love your writing and the tone you have in your books. Please write back.
July 6, 2008
My name is Joe, I’m a 15 year old whoever from Minnesota and I’m sure that you get a lot of emails from kids like me, but I just want to tell you how great your books are.
Basically since I’ve discovered your books, I’ve discovered myself. Deadline (which I am rereading) has really made see thing differently, especially this second time. It’s really made me realize how much I have to do with my life and how much more there is out there.
I feel like I really should repay you in some other way than just buying your books and telling others to read and buy them. You’ve given me so much, I feel and I’ve essentially given nothing even close to equal in return. I’m really good at figuring out what kind of cars/computers/every other electronic devices people should get, so if you are ever in the market for something like that, be sure to let me know.
I love your writing, keeps my reality in check. Be sure to keep it coming.
I just finished reading "Deadline", an advance copy loaned to me by a friend who works at a bookstore.
I am an avid reader. I read anything, including the back of the shampoo bottle when I am in the shower. But it has been many years since a book has literally taken my breath away and brought me to tears. Being ill myself (though not terminally) has given me a new perspective on life, death, and the act of living in the moment.
Hi! My name's Dacia, and I just finished reading Deadline. When I bought it, it looked really good, but when I got home, it kind of just made its way to the shelf to bo forgotten until last week...I picked it up about last Wednesday, and I just couldn't put it down! Oh my god was it good! It's so sad, but in an incredibly awesome way! I immidiatley fell in love with Ben, and when I heard what had happened, I felt just devistatingly awful for Cody! I really really REALLY love this book, and could you recommend me any others by Chris?? And, if you get the chance, could you tell him that since I picked up Twilight by Stephenie Meyer last year, I hadn't read a book that I liked, until I read Deadline? Thanks so much!,