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Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
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Jan 26, 11

bookshelves: amelia-reviews

Being popular and good-hearted does not usually go hand in hand in high school, but Crutcher does a good portrayal of a heroic teenager with T.J., creating someone who is admirable in almost every way. Good-hearted, funny, and chivalrous, who wouldn’t fall for T.J.? Well, maybe the jocks or bullies who are tired of T.J. standing up to them and making them look dumb with his smart mouth.

Not only does T.J. stand up for the school rejects, he also defends a battered student against her boyfriend and helps save an abused little girl from her racist step-father. One may argue that T.J. has a bit of a hero-complex, giving himself too many airs and responsibility for taking on the world. However, his character is so clever, witty, (dare I say charming?) that I cannot help but root him on with all of his efforts. He’s like a modern-day high-school hero.

The premise of the story is an interesting concept: building an awkward and untalented swim team as a form of rebellion. T.J. sees no problem in creating a team who are either mentally challenged, overweight, or socially awkward, so why should any of the readers? No, I am not encouraging people to go with the flow of the popular guy… or, maybe I am since the popular guy is actually a nice guy, who is a good role model. Reading a heart-warming story about rooting for the little guys never seemed less corny, and that is all thanks to the snarky attitude that is intertwined with T.J.’s good nature. If you could not tell already, it is T.J.’s character that makes the story so great.

In case some of you are still wondering how whales are actually involved in the book, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. There are no whales. This is probably my only complaint about the book. Although I can appreciate that Crutcher was trying to use whales’ songs as an analogy, I am afraid that this is the one thing that just didn’t cut it for this reader. However, I can’t help loving the rest of the book, despite this bad analogy.

-EZ Read Staffer Amelia
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