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Whale Talk Paperback – June 30, 2009
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Injustice, however, still fills him with fury. So when big-deal football star Mike Barbour bullies brain-damaged Chris Coughlin for wearing his dead brother's letter jacket, T.J. hatches a scheme for revenge. He assembles a swim team (in a school with no pool) made up of the most outrageous outsiders and misfits he can find and extracts a conditional promise of those sacred letter jackets from the coach. After weeks of dedicated practice at the All Night Fitness pool, the seven mermen get good enough not to embarrass themselves in competition. The really important thing, though, turns out to be the long bus rides to meets, a safe place to share the hurts that have made them who they are. Meanwhile, T.J.'s father, who has taken in a battered little girl to ease his lifelong guilt over his role in the accidental death of a baby, tangles with another bully--her stepfather--and his growing murderous rage.
Chris Crutcher, therapist and author of seven prize-winning young adult books, here gives his many fans another wise and compassionate story full of the intensity of athletic competition and hair-raising incidents of child abuse. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
T.J. Jones (actual name The Tao Jones... pronounce it, I dare you) is probably one of three people of color in his small Washington town. Adopted by his parents when he was a seriously abused toddler, T.J.'s a pretty well put together kid. That's probably in no small part due to his amazing mom and dad and his fantastic (some might say godlike) child therapist, Georgia. Which isn't to say that T.J.'s life is bereft of odd problems. His favorite teacher, Simet, is trying to lure T.J. into helping him start a school swim team. There are a couple problems with this plan. For one thing, T.J. refuses to join any organized sports. Cutter High School is run by and for its jocks.Read more ›
The Tao Jones is a mixed race character who is adopted from a drug-addicted mother. Tao is taken in by a truck driving dad and lawyer mother who are just about the coolest parents on earth, but they aren't without their own baggage.
Whale Talk is a masterfully woven tale that traces Tao through his struggles in a racist society that is also a little elitist. Tao, like most of Crutcher's protagonists, is a great athlete with a strange sense of humor. Tao enjoys getting even with those who single out he, or any other character in the high school that is different, by using the predators' ignorance against them.
All in all, this is an honest portrayal of a complex mix of race, family secrets and small town routines held up by the Good Ol' Boy system along with serious developmental pshychological issues.
This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, but most importantly, it will make you examine your inner-most being in ways that will surprise you.
Chris Crutcher is the undisputed King of YA Literature, which he proves with his most powerful YA novel to date.
It's always the best books that poke their heads up over the radar, only to have them lopped off by people who just don't get it. Whale Talk is listed by the American Library Association-- the folks who put out those neat lists of books that inbred know-nothings feel the need to attack in school libraries (aka the lists of "this is what I'll read next" for thousands upon thousands of American high-school kids)-- as one of the ten most challenged books of 2005. This makes perfect sense, because Whale Talk is probably the best young adult novel I've read since I first discovered Philip Pullman's wonderful (and similarly challenged) trilogy His Dark Materials.
T. J. Jones is a mixed-race high-school student in the Pacific Northwest, and he's also got something of an attitude problem. He's athletic, but ignores organized sports at his competition-rabid school until he sees the younger brother of a now-dead local hero getting pushed around for wearing his brother's letter jacket. Jones decides to retaliate by starting a swim team-- at a school that doesn't even have its own pool. He recruits a number of misfits (including Chris, the pushed-around, mentally challenged kid), lines up a coach, and sets out to, if not humiliate the sports freaks around him, at least show them that the outcasts can perform, too. What he doesn't expect is that the long bus rides to swim meets around the region will create a sense of camaraderie among them.
The most important thing that makes this book so good is the characterization. Crutcher has filled his book with well-drawn, memorable, interesting characters who will keep the reader entertained for its duration.Read more ›
Chris Crutcher's WHALE TALK may offend some readers in a variety of ways. The profanity is prolific; furthermore, the talk about drugs, sex, and violence fills about two-thirds of the pages. However, if a teacher-reader wades through the offending characteristics, the novel is filled with merit. When students choose this text for independent reading, wise teachers will warn parents; but, wise teachers will also couple the warning with insightful perspectives about the appeal and wisdom of this young-adult book - listed on American Library Association's Top Ten Best.
One of the lasting impressions of merit that the book holds is its imagery. Crutcher creates visuals that will surely haunt each and every reader - word pictures that sink into the soul of those who immerse themselves in the text.
"His mother's boyfriend wrapped his face in Saran Wrap to make him stop crying." . . . "I will forever remember the sensation of that animal going slack in my hold as the bullet went through his temple." . . . "She discovered a small severed arm lying next to the white line about a mile and a half outside the city limits, maybe a hundred yards from where the truck spit out the rest of the little boy's mangled body." . . . "He whips off the T-shirt, kicks off his shoes as he sits on the bench, pulls off his sweatpants, then unstraps his right LEG." . . . "He'd tie my leg to the pipe under the kitchen sink, give me a big ol' aluminum bowl to pee in, and take off with his buddies." . . . "Your stepdaughter came out of the bathroom with her forearm bleeding because she tried to change the color of her skin with a Brillo pad. YOU told her it would work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really couldn't put it down. The storytelling is great, you want to meet the characters (well, not ALL of them). It's both realistic and darkly over the top at the same time.Published 15 days ago by M. Brown
This book grabs your attention with a real life young man and what is happening in his life. Then he shows a little bit of ugliness and asks you to learn how to deal with it.Published 2 months ago by gheder
Love this book - I am a high school Special Education teacher and I read this with my students - the content opens so many doors to communicating with my students about relevant... Read morePublished 6 months ago by James D. Eavey
This book addresses some real problems of bullying, acceptance for "different" folks, and how kindness overcomes much of it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Read only
First off, awful cover that didn't have anything to do with the book or represent the main character well. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kevin
Was required to read this book for my college English class. I couldn't put it down. If you want to start a honest dialogue about race & socio economic classes this book is a good... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sonya McLear
Good book for adolescents to focus on issues that can be encountered during their high school career.Published 15 months ago by Len
I approach this review from the perspective of reader and writer. When a reader first meets T.J., a very different main character in more ways than one, in a candid, edgy writing... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Dr. W. C. kasten