Najentel's Reviews > Whale Talk

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
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's review
Sep 23, 2011

really liked it

Life for T.J. Jones is as unique as his exotic DNA. Born to an African and Japanese-American father and a Northern European-American mother, T. J. was adopted by a white couple who live in the small logging community of Cutter, Washington. Now in his senior year of high school, T. J. is intelligent, athletic, and against “all that is wrong with Cutter High”. Bigotry and the school jocks appear to run the town and high school. So T. J. decides to make a place for himself and his group of outcasts by forming a school swim team. Forget the fact that the school doesn’t have a swimming pool; T. J. is out to prove that the least likely group of students can earn the coveted varsity letter jacket. Along the way the swim team learns a lot about themselves and each other. More important is the lesson about forgiveness which T. J. learns from his adopted father.

I was captivated by T. J.’s sense of humor. He had so much happen in his life at a very young age and yet he was confident and witty. Even when his anger sometimes overwhelmed him, he still maintained a strong moral compass and stood up for others (including deer). I found T.J. to be a character that I would want to cheer for and see him triumph in the end. I also found it interesting how many of the characters in the book, like T. J.’s dad and the other swimmers, are completely different from what their physical appearance would suggest. This proves the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Classroom Extension:
I would divide the students into groups and have them write and perform a short skit about bigotry or racism, emphasizing how they would deal with the situation. We would then discuss how their handling of the situation compares to how T. J. handled his situation.

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