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Chinese Handcuffs

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,444 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Dillon is living with the painful memories of his brother's suicide -- and the role he played in it. To keep his mind and body occupied, he trains intensely for the Ironman Triathalon. But outside of practice, his life seems to be falling apart.

Then Dillon finds a confidante in Jennifer, a star high school basketball player who's hiding her own set of destructive secrets.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 5th 2004 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1989)
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Muhammad Ahmed Siddiqui
Nov 04, 2013 Muhammad Ahmed Siddiqui rated it liked it
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
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
Macrae K
Jan 07, 2013 Macrae K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 14, 2008 Will rated it did not like it
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
Jul 17, 2007 Dan rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 21, 2015 Onlyvickyv rated it it was amazing
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.
Kristine Kouba
Feb 05, 2010 Kristine Kouba rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Nov 12, 2011 Darcy rated it really liked it
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
Dec 29, 2010 Stephen rated it really liked it
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
Apr 27, 2007 Jessie rated it it was ok
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.
Richie Partington
Jul 23, 2013 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
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
I read this a long time ago when I was much younger and don't remember much about it, probably because it was too mature for me to take much in or understand (I used to read a lot of teen books before I was a teen, because I was fascinated with stories from the older kids). And I was going to read it again, but in all honesty I don't remember liking it very much even then, even though I like serious realistic topics and the 80s, I just remember being a bit disappointed. Also, according to some o ...more
Feb 27, 2017 Lane rated it it was amazing
I am a big fan of Chris Crutcher and his books, although I have not read all of his books, I loved the ones I have. I had to read Chinese Handcuffs for an assignment in my Young Adult Literature class, usually, dislike books because I am forced to read them, but Crutcher made me love this book.
Nov 19, 2008 Steffaney rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2016 Cody rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2016 Jayden rated it really liked it
"Chinese handcuffs" is a depressing book. The main character Dillon is trying to get over the fact that his older brother committed suicide and help his new friend Jennifer. When I started reading this book I thought the mood would lighten but it didn't but it was still a great book. I think the theme of this novel is to keep moving forward because through the story Dillon was being held back by his brothers death. I know this because in his last letter to his dead brother he said he's going to ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Bookworm1858 rated it really liked it
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
Denae Christine
Feb 16, 2013 Denae Christine rated it liked it
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
Josh Stoll
Mar 11, 2010 Josh Stoll rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2011 Keaton rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 13, 2014 Bob rated it it was amazing
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.
Xiao Qiang
Dec 26, 2007 Xiao Qiang rated it really liked it
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
Allie Brown
Apr 26, 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
Apr 20, 2010 Julie Pfeiffer rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2014 elirosselli rated it it was amazing
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
Jo Deurbrouck
Sep 24, 2009 Jo Deurbrouck rated it liked it

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
Mar 23, 2008 Tawnie rated it it was ok
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
Angel Garcia
Sep 23, 2011 Angel Garcia rated it really liked it
The title of this book is called Chinese Handcuffs. It was written by Chris Crutcher. This book was publishe on October 1, 2004. The genre of this story is Depression. There are 304 pages in this book. I have not completed this book yet. There are several charatcers in this book but the main one is Dillon. This Book takes place several places such as home , and school.
The bad guy of this story is Dillon's brother Preston. The good guy is Dillon. The other characters in the story are Jennifer,
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Deeper meaning of the title 2 9 Mar 30, 2012 06:19AM  
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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.” 7 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.” 3 likes
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