From Publishers Weekly
Such superlatives as "riveting" and "powerful" can only hint at the craftsmanship on display in this transcendent story of love, loyalty and courage. While probing such issues as friendship, free speech and moral values, Crutcher ( Chinese Handcuffs ; Stotan! ) tells a tale whose mordant humor, poignancy and suspense pack a breathtaking wallop. A social outcast in junior high due to his excessive weight, narrator Eric Calhoune found a kindred spirit in Sarah Byrnes, whose face and hands were hideously disfigured in a childhood accident. Now a senior and considerably slimmed down through competitive swimming (though still aptly called "Moby"), Eric remains fiercely devoted to his friend, whose caustic tongue is her only protection from life's inequities. When Sarah abruptly stops talking and is committed to a mental ward, Eric is compelled to take action to help her, but quickly finds that he is in over his head. He risks their friendship by breaking his vow of secrecy and enlisting others' aid--help that comes from such unlikely quarters as a former bully, Eric's swim coach and, most surprisingly, his mother's seemingly wimpy boyfriend. A subplot centering on a self-righteous teammate drives home the point that nothing is as it appears on the surface, and leads to Eric being caught between his menacing vice-principal and the even more malevolent Mr. Byrnes--with spine-tingling results. Superb plotting, extraordinary characters and crackling narrative make this novel one to be devoured in a single unforgettable sitting. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-Chris Crutcher's stunning story of teen loyalty and courage (Greenwillow, 1993) is narrated by Johnny Heller. His convincing voice adds tremendously to the sense of immediacy with which 18-year-old Eric Calhoun tells the story of his friend Sarah Byrnes, horribly disfigured since age three. Doomed to live with the irrational and evil father who burned her on a wood stove and compelled her silence for years, Sarah finally reaches the limits of her endurance. Eric, an amazingly good swimmer despite his heavyweight size, struggles to uncover Sarah's nightmare past and find a way to help her. The two outcasts had been best friends for years, but the loyalty built on this odd friendship ultimately required enormous courage from both of them. The exciting story has it all: intense examination of values, normal teen concerns with friendship and personal growth, sports, dates and, above all, interesting and likable characters who make readers laugh through all kinds of pain, suspense, and even danger. Heller is perfectly cast as Eric with his comedic timing down so finely that listeners can hear Eric's wry perspective on himself coming through the action and introspection of this outstanding story. While keeping his tone and pitch centered beautifully on Eric, Heller manages to convey other characters' voices with only subtle modulations that contribute to making Eric an even more convincing narrator. No collection aimed at teenagers should miss this outstanding title presented in this equally outstanding way. Every adult who listens to this with a teenager will find it challenging, worthwhile, and a rare opportunity to experience something wonderful together. Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, Painted Post, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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