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Whale Talk (2001)

de Chris Crutcher

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1,1937412,021 (4.03)29
Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students.
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Ostensibly about a kid challenging the ruling power of sports at his high school, this story also shows the power of being a part of something. This was a beautiful and difficult read. Difficult because the author shows you all the ways that people are cruel and abusive to other people. Beautiful because most of the characters learn and grow. Crutcher is also very good at writing smart (and smart-ass) teenagers that are entertaining and funny. But seriously, have some tissues handy as you're reading this heart-wrenching and yet hopeful book. ( )
  Sarah220 | Jan 23, 2021 |
An unusual inspirational novel that touched me far more than I expected it to, although after reading another of Crutcher's novels, "Deadline," I should have anticipated the simple but striking story.

The Tao Jones (abbreviated to T.J. for obvious reasons), is an athlete extraordinaire, although he usually chooses not to show it. But when his English teacher approaches him about starting a swim team at Cutter High, where there isn't even a pool, T.J.'s rebellious, stubborn attitude leads him to latch onto the idea. With intentional carelessness, T.J. recruits the six least likely students to ever succeed on an atheletics team: Dan Hole, a scholar with straight A's, Tay-Roy Kibble, a bodybuilder, Jackie Craig, a silent wallflower, Simon DeLong, a three-hundred pound outcast, Chris Coughlin, the autistic younger brother of a deceased high school champion, and Andy Mott, a surly bad boy with a prosthetic leg. Along with T.J., who is a mixed race Japanese-African-American adopted from a negligent mother, they form the Cutter High Mermen, the most unlikely swim team in the history of the close-minded, atheletics-worshipping town.

Dealing with everything from family issues to modern racial prejudice to a inspirational sports story, "Whale Talk" encompasses many themes and sheds wisdom on them all. Each of the characters is realistic, and you come to love and hate them with surprising intensity; the seven members of the Merman are brilliantly endearing in a Breakfast Club sort of way. Crutcher pulls no punches with the hard stuff, but in the end the story is true-to-life; touching on moments of unthinkable cruelty and heartwarming triumph. ( )
  booksong | Mar 18, 2020 |
Young adult novel about a senior who starts a high school swim team of "misfits." An excellent read that explores racism, prejudice, coming of age, and high school sports. A little darker in places than I was expecting, but very good. Recommended. ( )
  lycomayflower | Jan 12, 2016 |
This book was a very powerful book to read. There were so many different elements involved in it that it made it a very emotional book as well. I can definitely see how there is controversy surrounding Chris Crutchers novels, there is language and events that perhaps parents would like to shelter their children from. However at the same time, at some point as a parent it is important to understand that our children are going to be hearing about stuff like what is talked about in the book at school or with friends so reading it in a book and being able to have an open dialogue with your parents would be better then hearing about tough subjects only from friends. ( )
  CathrynAnna | Nov 30, 2015 |
Love this book about bullying, where the underdogs make headway-at a cost. ( )
  kimpiddington | Jul 16, 2015 |
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Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students.

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