Monday, July 20, 2009

Male Monday: Whale Talk

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Rating: 5/5

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.
Chris Crutcher is in top form with a cast of characters--adults, children, and teenagers--fighting for dignity in a world where tragedy and comedy dance side by side, where a moment's inattention can bring lifelong heartache, and where true acceptance is the only prescription for what ails us.
taken from the author's website

The I.Q. (Incredible Quote): for this book way too many, but this is one of my all time favorites,

"When your name is The Tao Jones, you think twice before passing judgement on a peer's name, but I am quick with silent gratitude that my last name can't be translated into any target so basic to adolescent males [Dan Hole]." T.J.

First, some people have crushes on Harry Potter, Edward Cullen or Mr. Darcy. Well I have a crush on The Tao Jones. Should I ever meet a guy like him (I'm hopeful he exists!) I would be so excited to just know a guy like him exists :) He's funny, sarcastic and has a heart of gold. His flaw (s),depending on how you look at it, only serve to make him more endearing.
All the good characters and misfits were amazing. You truly hated the bad guys and loved the underdogs.

Ok I'm going to throw in another i.q. here, but only because it helps illustrate a point.
TJ:"You told them I was an Olympic hopeful?"
Simet: "There must have been a time or two when you hoped you'd go to the Olympics someday."

This quote shows why Simet (Mr. Simet, T.J.'s English and journalism teacher) rocks. I wish a teacher like him existed at my school (although I have had two teachers who've come pretty close, but they were in grade school and middle school. You really need a teacher like him in high school.) He cares about his students, he's funny and he remembers what it was like to be a teenager, while still acting responsibly and maturely. So besides T.J. and Simet, my other favorite character was Mott. I'm not going to go into any details on why, because that would spoil the book. But I really I loved all the good guys, the parents of T.J. and the underdogs.

The evil characters and prejudice in this novel will make you cringe and very angry. What can be even more astonishing is that the book is set in the modern world and offers proof that racism still exists today. The ending will make you cry. This is the first book to ever make me cry.

Also, the dialogue here was real. I would have reacted (or said, for better or worse) in the same way as T.J. did in the book. Where I live is pretty diverse, not evenly, but it's definitely better than the racial make-up of where T.J. lives. My school is a little worse, but still not as bad s T.J.'s. I can't imagine going to a school and being the only black kid This book tackles racism, self-esteem,and almost every kind of abuse.It teaches you lessons, I know that's a bit cliche, but this book teaches you lessons in a way that you don't even realize you're being taught.

I won't tell you why it's called Whale Talk. My hope is that you will be inspired enough by my review (or better yet, just the summary of the book) to buy this book. Read it whether you be male or female. But especially get it for your son, nephew, god-son, cousin, even husband if he wants to go back to his teenage years. This is one of my favorite books to re-read, even though the ending still makes me extremely upset. When (not if!) you read this book leave a comment telling me what you thought of the book. I promise I won't bite your head off even if you tell me it wasn't amazing.But I'd be lying if I didn't say if you comment that you didn't like it AT ALL, I would be upset.


  1. Miss A,

    You are too funny. Yes, if I were a teen, I'd like to be T.J.'s girl. I imagine this really cute, butter-kissed boy with just enough muscle and height to make most girls sigh. lol

    Love your review. I know why the title. I read the book. Chris Crutcher rocks.

  2. Haha yeah I imagine him looking the same way :)

  3. I'll have to check this out for my sons! I think I'd have a crush on T.J., too!! Thanks for this!!


  4. I've heard a lot of great things about Chris Crutcher. I'll have to check this out. :)

  5. I love the sound of this book. PS: I found your blog via Susan, and I really like the way you write!

  6. I'm thrilled people are going to check out this book! I can't express how much I adored this book.
    Melissa T.J. is so crushworthy! and I'm glad that you're getting the book for you sons :)
    Em-I haven't read any of Chris Crutcher's other books, but I've read they're fantastic. I intend on reading more of them.
    Nymeth-I'm so glad you like the blog and are going to read the book!


I love to hear from you!! Thank you for sharing :) And don't be Anon, I try to always reply back and I like to know who I'm replying to ;)