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Chinese Handcuffs

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,373 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews

When Dillon Hemingway is forced to witness his brother Preston's suicide, his life understandably seems to fall apart. His quest to make it whole again involves Stacy Ryder, Preston's girlfriend, who is left with more than a memeory of Dillon's dead brother, and Jennifer Lawless, a star high school basketball player with a secret too monstrous to tell and too enormous to k

Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 1st 1991 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1989)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,570)
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Muhammad Ahmed Siddiqui
Apr 15, 2015 Muhammad Ahmed Siddiqui rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA sports fans

I was confused to rate it, I didn't love it neither hate it.

I started this book expecting a lot of sporty stuff but the sports in this book is just a way in which the protagonists are dealing with their problems or should I say diverting from their problems. Both protagonists have a troubled childhood so I won't say this book is different. But the narrative is likeable. The characters are not new but have be
Apr 30, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit
Chinese Handcuffs is the first Chris Crutcher novel I read. I will be reading more! The plot and characters are appealing to me as an adult and I could see them being incredibly appealing to a young reader, high school aged. The voices of the characters are incredibly authentic, not fluffed up or dumbed down. I enjoyed the format of letters and flashbacks juxtaposed with first person narrative from two different perspectives, two characters Jen and Dillon.

The main character Dillon Hemingway, a
Jun 14, 2008 Will rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-good
Excrement, if you will, is made up entirely of waste. It is an absence of value, substance and nutrients. It's the body's refuse discarded or rejected as useless or worthless. This is a fair summation of this book. Everything was waaay over-sensationalized. There was a secret teen pregnancy, unrequited love, an evil-and-above-the-law-lawyer, a self-obsessed and emotionally distant mother, a brother's suicide, a suicide rescue, drug addiction, a violent motorcycle gang, molestation, a hidden came ...more
Macrae K
Jan 09, 2013 Macrae K rated it really liked it
Jennifer Lawless is an intense athlete and star basketball player for her school, Chief Joe. Dillon Hemmingway is an equally talented and dedicated athlete. Dillon, however,does grueling triathlons. Both athletes are main characters in the young adult book Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher. However, both athletes have a huge part of their life holding them back. For Dillon it is his brother committing suicide in front of him, and for Jennifer it is that her step father takes advantage of her ...more
Apr 21, 2015 Onlyvickyv rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much! I read it all in just two nights!! I couldn't go to sleep because of how good the story was.
Aug 02, 2007 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: athletes; non-athletes; boys; girls; people with deep-seated grudges against motorcycle gangs
Chinese Handcuffs is admirable for the way it unflinchingly deals with very dark themes, including suicide, drugs, sexual abuse, and the evil and good we all do. The motivations are believable, the message is on target, the writing crisp and clear. For me, this is Crutcher's best and most important work.
Feb 19, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mature teen readers
Chris Crutcher writes about athletic kids in an imperfect world. There's always a real world problem simmering just below the surface in his stories of teen athletes, but kids are tough and the books tend to have an upbeat feel despite the problems.

This teen athlete was a an ironman triathelete and like the athlete looking for the ultimate challenge, the social problems involved in this story were over the top as well.

I'd actually call the situation laughably unlikely if I hadn't known someone
Nov 12, 2011 Darcy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, ya
It is official, I am hooked on books by this author. I have read enough of them now to realize that in some ways they are all the same. You would think that this would make the subject matter old and you wouldn't want to read them. But the opposite is true. While the main themes are similar how these kids deal with things is different.

What appeals to me so much is that these kids are put in tough situations, that deal with things adults would have a hard time with. Yet the kids manage to do what
Kristine Kouba
Feb 07, 2010 Kristine Kouba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book of my choice: Chinese Handcuffs

Plot Summary: Two main characters: one male, one female. Both are athelets and dealing with family issues. The male's brother has committed suicide and the female has problems with her father and then her step father. In every chapter, there was a twist added to the story! It reminded me of a soap opera, sometimes- drama, complicated emotions, and difficult situations. It was a slow start, but after the first few chapters, the book became more interesting and
Feb 16, 2012 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Crutcher's Chinese Handcuffs is written in both narrative and letters written to Dillon's dead brother Preston.

Dillon's brother Preston was a troubled teen (well, it never states his age that I recall but he is 2 years older than Dillon). After a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed, Dillon turned more to drugs and a motorcycle gang. Unable to fight his demons, he killed himself in front of Dillon. The book deals with Dillon trying to figure out his life. Everything has changed for him.
Feb 28, 2016 Cody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chris Crutcher's book "Chinese Handcuffs" is a riveting look at the darkness that exists in all of us. As we journey along with our main characters, Dillon and Jen, we are taught how to deal with this darkness, using one of the most powerful analogies I have every heard; we as people are tied to our darkness through a Chinese finger trap. We can't ever be free if we continue to pull away, but the moment we relieve the pressure, we are free. This analogy for life is integrated throughout the book ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deserves 10 stars; better yet, 15.

Technically, this is a YA book, but it's pretty strong for that category. Enough to get it banned from some libraries, which is a shame because it has a powerful message.

The main character was Dillon, a high school student, who was good at finding his way through problems. One of the antagonists was Mr Caldwell, an ass't principal who acted like a mob enforcer who liked to zero in on Dillon. Dillon's response:

"Today Mr Caldwell told me I don't have any respect.
Apr 06, 2015 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
p.63 I have some things to learn about unwarranted arrogance.
p.257 It's a strange thing to be trusted that much by an adult. I'm sure I like it. If you fall with that responsibility, there's no net.

An important story about different forms of abuse. At times, the story is difficult to read because of the intense storyline. Mr. Crutcher delves into the ugly side of what goes on behind close doors.

The novel presents many of the hallmarks of the classic Crutcher tale, including a healthy portion of
First thing I will say about this book: Chinese Handcuffs is a very good book. Second thing: many people won't like it and will criticize because it deals with issues like sexual abuse, violence, pushing oneself too much, and suicide, among others (all of which are considered by many "taboo" issues). The truth is that this book depicts reality, and for those who want a prettier reality, well, go read some other happily-ever-after fiction.
Crutcher knows how to make his stories real and Chinese Ha
Apr 27, 2007 Jessie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like issues books
I'm not much of a Crutcher fan, and this one was hard to read. It's pretty bleak, and deals with sexual abuse, suicide, violence, pregnancy, oh and animal torture.
Jan 14, 2016 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This tale has a little bit of everything in it - teenage angst, divorce, incest, teenage pregnancy, suicide... good grief! It was a good book, the second of Crutcher's that I have read (I enjoyed Staying Fat... much more). This was a good weekend read and I flew through it. The beginning seemed kind of slow to me, but it was necessary to get all of the characters explained and to see the relationships between each of them and connections to understand how the story develops. The last several cha ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Bookworm1858 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-read, read-2012
I think I've made no secrets about my love for Crutcher-his books just hit me right in the gut and I love them. I've been trying to read through his oeuvre slowly in order to be able to savor them for a while. This one hit me hard.

Crutcher does have a lot of the same themes and plots in his books, which I've seen as I read through them. This one also featured some of the darker ones including descriptions of two animals being murdered, two child molestations, suicide, and other assorted acts of
Richie Partington
1 February 2005 Classic Pick: CHINESE HANDCUFFS by Chris Crutcher, Greenwillow, 1989, ISBN: 0-688-08345-5

"I was really intrigued by her idea that if I keep my mind on myself and my own reactions to the world, I can have complete control, that trying to control everything outside me is what keeps me stuck and completely out of control. Opposites at work, I think, maybe Stacy's Chinese handcuffs. Who knows? I may be the world's next really great philosopher. Then again, I may be the world's next r
Nov 19, 2008 Steffaney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Steffaney by: my teacher
I read the book Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher. It is about a teenaged boy trying to deal with his brother’s suicide, (with plenty of twists). And he love for his brothers ex girlfriend, and the all star girls basketball player. You never really know what is going to happen next but you always want to find out, and never put this book down until you do. “There’s a lot to consider. I have never loved and hated anyone at the same time and so ferociously as I do you for what you did. My emoti ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Keaton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher was a great book. The reason I had picked this book was because the title of it “Chinese Handcuffs” it seemed like a pretty awesome book. To be honest I would have never thought the actual story would be as interesting as the book’s title. But, it turned out to be a very good book. There were times where I didn’t want to put this book down. There are not that many books that grab my attention like this one did. For some people this book could make you ...more
Denae Christine
Warning: this book/review contains mention of drug abuse, suicides, incest, and rapes. Among other things, although not as bad as Perks.
Heavy stuff. I don't even know how to rate this book. Lower because it has issues I don't like to read about, but higher because it is done pretty well and has a decent ending. But lower because I didn't actually enjoy reading about these poor teens' messed up lives. Maybe I would care more if my adolescence was more troubled and I needed painful abuses in or
Jo Deurbrouck

I admire that Crutcher takes taboo subjects head-on. I think much of what's hard about growing up is that kids are dealing with grindingly heavy issues, sometimes, in a near-vacuum. They're not supposed to talk about it. We're not supposed to talk about it with them. I've heard this book has been banned, or at least that attempts have been made to ban it, from high school libraries. Ironic, because part of what the book is about is how we isolate kids in nightmarish situations by making it clear
Chelsea Amato
I read "Deadline" by Chris Crutcher so that is why i decided to read this book. Dillion Hemingway witnessed the suicide of his older brother, Preston. After his brother committed suicide, Dillion's family split up. He had a very hard time dealing with everything, and on top of all of that, the love of his life, Stacy, is in love with Preston. Dillion is trying to figure out what to do about Stacy when Jen came into the picture. Dillion begins to get feelings for Jen when she tells him a secret t ...more
Josh Stoll
Mar 11, 2010 Josh Stoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The rating: At times, this novel seems a bit too melodramatic for its own good. However, for the most part the writing is strong and realistic, the characters are compelling and complex, and the premise itself is heartbreaking.
Summary: Dillon Hemingway is a witness to his brother Preston's suicide. He has to cope with it, and can only turn to a few people for help: Preston's girlfriend Stacy, who is also the mother of Preston's son, and Jennifer Lawless, a basketball player whose father has sexu
Allie Brown
May 13, 2010 Allie Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good and easy read (readability wise). Dillion is a junior in high school and dealing with some very adult issues. He was a witness to his older brother's suicide, his family has fallen apart, his heart is torn between his brother's girlfriend (who also gave birth to his nephew) and Jennifer, who has various issues of her own. Dillion is just trying to figure out who he is and who he wants to be. He has found an outlet in Ironman compititions and being the trainer for the St Jose ...more
Julie Pfeiffer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Xiao Qiang
Dec 26, 2007 Xiao Qiang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people of all ages
Shelves: 11thgradereading
Although this was one of my the least favorite of Chris Crutcher's work, I did enjoy it because of the ending and sports significance. I didn't enjoy this story in the sense that the narrator was "too" all knowing. He gave the reader every possible insight to the characters and what they were thinking rather than do it through the actions ofthe characters. Doing this kind of took the excitement out of the story. I liked this story in the sense that Crutcher, one again, talks about a issue, sex a ...more
Oct 06, 2008 Tawnie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Grades: 9 to 12 Genre: Realistic Fiction
While Dillon might avoid participating in any school sport, he does compete in triathlons. This causes him no end of troubles from the vice principle of his school, but Dillon can handle it. What he can’t understand though is the fact that his older brother Preston killed himself in front of him. To help himself cope, Dillon starts to write a series of letters to Preston about the things that are happening. In these letters Dillon expresses his frustration
David Scott
Chinese handcuffs was about a boy who loved basketball but also loved to be in trouble. When he finds a girl who he really liked all that changed, he was just about basketball and the girl of his dreams. But when something happens that makes his girl leave him, he gets out of control and gets into the most trouble he ever got in. I like this book because of the action and adventure the book has, and how the guy in the book changed for his love for basketball and his love.
Jamie Teller
Apr 18, 2016 Jamie Teller rated it it was amazing
I haven't gone back to this in years, but when I was in middle school (and thus, part of the target audience), I really loved it. It's not always an easy read, dealing as it does in fairly frank terms with sexual abuse and suicide, but it's constantly compelling and sympathetically handled, and grants a measure of triumph to its protagonists at the end, which at the time at least, felt earned to me.
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Chris Crutcher's writing is controversial, and has been frequently challenged and even banned by individuals who want to censor his books by removing them from libraries and classrooms. Running Loose and Athletic Shorts were on the ALA's top 100 list of most frequently challenged books for 1990-2000. His books generally feature teens coping with serious problems, including abusive parents, racial ...more
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“Comedy is tragedy standing on its head with its pants down.” 6 likes
“Dillon, all you have in this world, really, are your responses to it. Responses to your feelings and responses to what comes in from outside. You know how adults are always trying to get you to take responsibility? That's all responsibility is, responding to the world, owning your responses. It isn't about taking blame or finding out if something's your fault.” 2 likes
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