Bo Brewster has been at war with his father for as long as he can remember. Following angry outbursts at his football coach and English teacher that have cost him his spot on the football team and moved him dangerously close to expulsion from school, he turns to the only adult he believes will listen: Larry King.
In his letters to Larry, Bo describes his quest for excellence on his own terms. No more coaches for me, he tells the talk show icon, no more dads. I'm going to be a triathlete, an Ironman.
Relegated to Mr. Nak's before-school Anger Management group (which he initially believes to be populated with future serial killers and freeway snipers), Bo meets a hard-edged, down-on-their-luck pack of survivors with stainless steel shields against the world that Bo comes to see are not so different from his own. It is here he meets and falls in love with Shelly, a future American Gladiator, whose passion for physical challenge more than matches his.
Ironman is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking story about growing up in the heart of struggle. It is about standing up, getting knocked down, and standing up again. It is about being heard--and learning to listen.
"[Crutcher is] a terrific storyteller with a wonderful handle on what it's like to be an adolescent." ~New York Times Book Review
"With its highly charged intensity channeled into riveting prose, an array of eccentric and strong characterizations, and dramatic plot climax...Ironman is a combination of the psychological and the sports novel at their best." ~Booklist
"Crutcher achieves many memorable moments-exchanges between the students in the anger-management class, for example, are idealized but often deeply moving." ~Publisher's Weekly
Awards & Honors
ALA Best Book for YA New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age SLJ Best Book American Bookseller Pick of the List ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers California Young Reader Medalist ALA Best of the Best Books for YA Horn Book Fanfare Parent's Choice Silver Honor 1996 South Dakota YARP Best Books 2003 Mock Printz Survey for 1996 Nominee 1998 Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee 1997-1998 SC YA Book Award Nominee 1997 Nevada Young Reader Award
Title: Ironman Author: Chris Crutcher Genre: YA Fiction Pages: 181 Rating: 5 out of 5 Challenges: Crutcher Challenge FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Review: Chris Crutcher has done it again. He combines a sense of humor with horror and makes me want to read more. Bo is an angry teen whose dad is a total jerk, all they do is butt heads while Bo's dad uses denial to raise his son. Bo's reaction is to call his football coach an asshole, which lands him in this Anger Management group. This is a common theme for Crutcher who was a teacher and child/family therapist. My guess is that he was excellent at both.
All the characters except one in this book are male, making it one of those rare books geared toward teenage boys. There is also the sports element as Bo trains to participate in an Ironman (very long triathlon where he will swim, bike and run). However, the sports doesn't rule the book and is more of a vehicle for the character to let off steam, have some control of his life, and for the reader to learn more about the characters.
The issues that Crutcher raises in the anger management group are, unfortunately, typical family issues tied in with homophobia, racism, ignorance, and fear. When parents let their kids down and the kids need to be the grown ups, ugliness can take hold. These are the students in Bo's group and while they are angry, afraid, and yes, a little bit scary, Mr. Nak manages to get them to open up, admit things they are hiding, and come together for a common goal. This sounds sappy, but it isn't, not at all. It feels real and raw and that is the power of a Chris Crutcher novel.