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Deadline Paperback – April 21, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060850914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060850913
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
About once a year I find a book that makes me cry at the beginning and again at the end and changes my life somewhere in between. Last year that book was Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, the year before it was Louis Sachar's Small Steps, and the year before that it was Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, Book 1) by Ann Brashares. But now, at the tale end of this year, I can tell you that Deadline has changed the way I look at life, given me hope for the future and made me a better person, all within 316 pages.

If the cover of the book doesn't get you hooked--a sky so vividly blue it makes your heart ache and type placement that makes you wonder if you holding the book upside-down--the story will turn your life upside-down. And that's no joke.

Ben Wolf knows exactly what he wants from life. He wants to join the football team despite his miniscule size. He wants to teach his civics teacher a lesson in acceptance. He wants to clean up the town drunk, get the girl of his dreams to see past his size, heal his mother's manic depression, all in the year he has left after being diagnosed with a terminal, aggressive blood disease. And he wants to keep it all to himself.

What Ben doesn't know is what he wants for himself. He has spent eighteen years holding everyone around him together, so now he doesn't know how to hold himself together.

This is a beautifully written story with full characters and imagery that will transport you to the tiny town of Trout, Idaho. I know it sounds sappy, but it really did touch my heart. Chris Crutcher is a master at bringing humanity to the written word.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first read about this book, the premise seemed like a sure winner. A kid has a year to live, and decides not to tell anybody. How does he come to terms with death and pack in as much life as possible in the short time remaining?

As I was reading, however, the premise was the thinnest, least believeable part of the book. Compared to Chris Crutcher's real strength-- making you care about the characters and their relationships as they deal with pain and the horrible things that happen in life-- it seemed a touch gimmicky, getting in the way of the real, gritty stuff that was happening.

The main character's medical problems as illness caught up with him, the reactions of the people around him-- they just weren't quite real, they were glossed over a little.

That said, there were other things in this book that made me go, yeah, that's exactly how it is. Some of them were things you don't see in a lot of books.

I loved how Crutcher showed that situation where you're keeping a secret, and maybe you think it's too soon to tell someone, and then the relationship progresses and suddenly it feels too LATE to tell them and it's a big mess. That was pitch-perfect.

I loved how the main character felt like a real teenager in his not-quite-realistic thinking about death, a little romanticized and theoretical and yet not afraid to tackle the big questions like religion and meaning head-on. The way he attached near-ultimate importance to a football game was a perfect match for how he took the idea of death in stride. The way his anti-racism town project was a little off-kilter and doomed to failure, but still so much more right than the attitudes he was fighting against. Everything had the out-of-scale intense emotion of being a teenager.
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Format: Hardcover
This is classic Chris Crutcher with all of his signature trademarks -- sports, therapy, social issues, sexual issues, coming of age, and, of course, profanity. DEADLINE even picks up a strand from one of his first works, RUNNING LOOSE. Lou Banks, the teenage protagonist of that work, is now the football coach of Trout (Idaho) High School, home of this work's protagonist, 18-year-old Ben Wolf.

The wrinkle here is a death foretold. Right out of the gate in the opening pages, young Ben hears from his doctor that he has a terminal disease with one year to live. He decides a) not to take treatment for it so he can live his remaining days without radiation and chemo-related sicknesses, and b) not to tell anyone, family included. Crutcher makes him 18 -- older than your average YA hero -- so he can pull this off with the story remaining believable.

OK, so you have a year to live. What to do? If you're a short, wirey runner like Ben Wolf, you ditch track to go out for football and train like no tomorrow. And you try to win the heart of one of the school's toughest beauties, volleyball star Dallas Suzuki. You also treat yourself to dreams where you meet and have deep talks with a guy named "Hey-soos" (yes, a Spanish-sounding rendition of a guy we know from a Testament we know).

Add to the mix football action scenes, an alchoholic ex-priest with a secret, a teenaged mother with a secret, and a running, nothing-to-lose battle of wits with a pig-headed history teacher, and you get the type of book Crutcher fans look forward to. Oddly, some teenaged readers, when offered Crutcher fare, tend to find it too cerebral or "dated" in a sense.
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