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Deadline Hardcover – September 18, 2007
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From 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Just before his senior year, Ben Wolf is diagnosed with a rare, incurable leukemia. At 18, he has the legal right to keep the news to himself until he's ready to reveal it. With only his doctor and therapist in on his secret, Ben sets out to live an entire lifetime in a year: There are insects that pack it all into a day, he reasons. His goals are to join his brother on the football team; learn everything he can; and ask out gorgeous Dallas Suzuki. Crutcher fits far too much into this ambitious novel, which includes subplots about incest, pedophilia, manic depression, and intellectual freedom, as well as a Jesus-like character who appears in visions. And readers may feel distanced from Ben, whose first-person voice and reactions never quite feel authentic. But, 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. Engberg, Gillian
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Top customer reviews
There are too many issues tackled in addition to dying at 18: cover-up of Catholic priest child abuse, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, incest, a second child abuse, bullying, medical confidentiality, and the Vietnam war. The issue Ben chooses to tackle is racism. The author assumes that everyone in an all white town in Idaho is a bigot and that Malcolm X (who died almost 50 years ago in 1965)is the most relevant black figure to expose this bigotry. I found the premise that everyone was prejudiced against people of color (Native Americans, African Americans, but apparently not Asian Americans) objectionable.
The book uses very dated references. No current issues like the two Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, terrorism,and LGBT rights are included. I live in New York, but I don't think Idaho is 50 years behind the rest of the US.
But the second half made up for it. Several powerful events snag you to start thinking about some pretty big issues, like the power and importance of the truth, survival after abuse, how sometimes bad people can't really help that they are bad--and we can forgive them... I could have given this four stars, the average of the 3 and 5, but the second half really overrode the 3.
I'm a high school English teacher, and I love YA literature. I think this would be a great book for many boys because there is a lot of football, especially in the first third, to get them hooked. It's so hard to find books for boys, so I'm happy to have another one to recommend enthusiastically.
As I was reading Deadline, I was struck again and again by the no-holds-barred frankness--- the unblinking honesty-- with which Crutcher empowers Ben Wolf, his terminally ill hero.
Deadline is unforgettable. It questions again and again why people believe as they believe, and leaves no doubt that keeping oneself insulated from truth, even when the intention is to protect loved ones from grief, is a selfish act.
I have read all of Chris Crutcher's books, and without exception, I have always come away from them feeling as if I have been infused with knowing a greater truth, whether about myself or the world. Deadline leaves me infused and nearly without words for it-- so powerful a punch it packs.
Thank you, Chris Crutcher, for another thought-provoking book.
Most recent customer reviews
When it comes to the book Deadline the main character Ben who lives in Trout Idaho only has 12 months to live and has to live his life to the fullest.Read more