There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway.
A group of misfits brought together by T. J. Jones (the J is redundant) to find their places in a school that has no place for them, the Cutter All Night Mermen struggle to carve out their own turf. T. J. is convinced that a varsity letter jacket—unattainable for most, exclusive, revered, the symbol (as far as T. J. is concerned) of all that is screwed up at Cutter High—will be an effective carving tool. He's right. He's also wrong.
Still, it's always the quest that counts. And the bus on which the Mermen travel to swim meets—piloted by Icko, the permanent resident of All, Night Fitness—soon becomes the cocoon inside which they gradually allow themselves to talk, to fit, to bloom.
This was the first Chris Crutcher book I have read. I did not think I would like it because at my library it was labeled 'sports.' But I loved it! It may be a bit heavy handed in its preachiness but I agree with what Crutcher is saying so it did not bother me much.
T.J. is a great main character. He is strong, independent and stands up for the underdog. I liked how having a group - the swim team- that usual misfits belonged to helped them in all aspects of their lives.
I plan to read all of Crutcher's books over time.
T.J. Jones starts a swim team at his high school. Unfortunately, they don't actually have a swimming pool at the school.
Information about the author
Chris Crutcher, 64, is the author of thirteen books -- ten novels, two short story collections and an autobiography. Prior to his work as an author, he taught school in Washington and California and acted as director of an Oakland alternative school for nearly a decade. That academic history coupled with 25 years as a child and family therapist specializing in abuse and neglect has infused his literary work with realism and emotional heft. His signature blend of tragedy and comedy have made him a favorite with teen and adult readers.
He is also one of the most frequently banned authors in North America -- a fact he considers an accomplishment, rather than a drawback.
A popular Voices from the Middle columnist for several years, Crutcher has been awarded the NCTE's National Intellectual Freedom Award, the ALAN Award, the ALA's Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, the CLA's St. Katharine Drexel Award and Writer magazine's Writers Who Make a Difference Award.
Chris Crutcher makes his home in Spokane, Washington.
realistic fiction. sports.
*What would you do to earn a letterman's jacket?
age 12 and up
strong language. difficult issues.
It is best to be prepared for a book challenge before it is challenged. It is important to read the book all the way through and to have read both positive and negative reviews of the book from professionals and teens as well. Be aware of the library’s collection policy. Also check for any awards the book may have won. It would be beneficial to see how other library’s may have handled challenges for this particular book in the past.
This book won the ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2002).
I included this book because it was referred to in the book Hope in Patience that was required reading for this class. I am so happy that I did!