Author: Chris Crutcher
Page Length: 279
Reading Level: 7
REVIEW: Wow! This book was powerful on so many levels. Crutcher does a great job of analyzing why some young adult males are overly aggressive or angry. He raises some powerful questions about what love is and what good parenting should be. The characters are realistic and wonderfully well put together. I would recommend this to almost every teen male I’ve ever met and their parents.
PLOT SUMMARY: Bo Brewster is a 17 year old in his senior year of high school. His parents have recently separated. Brewster spends his time between a job, high school, taking care of his little brother, and training for the Yukon Jack Triathlon. Beau battles his father who insists on controlling his every move and teaching Beau a hard lesson through every opportunity he can. At the same time, his like-minded coach and English teacher regularly pushes him to the limit. Beau loses his cool and ends up suspended; his last chance is his mandatory assignment to anger management class.
The anger management class is led by a Japanese cowboy, Mr. Nak, who teaches his “misfits” about owning the fear inside them that fuels their anger. Through the characters in the book, we experience their parental abuse and control issues and their fears that they will turn out the same. The reader grows through their experiences and learns about others if not themselves as well. Beau learns control, finds his inner strength, and learns to overcome his prejudice. Fighting against his own issues and the relay team of college boys challenging his success in the triathlon, Bo has to pull together. Through the support of his friends and allies, Bo digs deep fights for a victory and control over his life. Will Bo be victorious? Can he control his outbursts in class and make it to graduation? Will he ever find the support he needs from his father?
TOUCHY AREAS: A must read. The only concerns are strong language at times (but typical of high school students), the graphic nature of the abuse that is described by the students, and Beau’s reaction to finding out someone he trusts is gay. However, the cautions are mild.
AREAS FOR TEACHING: The book is well worth reading – once the students connect to the text – they will be stronger for the experience in many ways. The book varies between narration and Bo’s letters (documenting his rise to fame) to Larry King. This would be a great example of a varied writing method – where students could narrate a story and have the character write to someone within the story. This book is a great source for class discussions on what good teachers, role models, and parents should be like. Some discussion questions might be: Why is inner strength important? How do we learn to make our own decisions? What events in our life have led us to be who we are today? What happens when we push ourselves? How should we deal with people who try to humiliate us? Great book!
REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor