Claudia's Reviews > Period 8

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher
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Sep 01, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: ya-books, suspense-fiction, 2012-book-challenge-160-books

Getting to listen to Crutcher talk about the book before I read it was heaven...he talked about reading Dave Cullen's COLUMBINE and being completely chilled by the portrayal of the sociopath, Eric. He told us he wanted to create a character who could 'easily get into the thread' of everyday life. That he has done.

I'm probably the only person you know who's read Crutcher's book THE DEEP END, an adult thriller...I see reflections here. In that early book, I kind of pegged Crutcher as the hero, the child psychologist who will go to any ends to save a little one. In this one, I see him as Logs, the teacher nearing retirement, feeling like he has nothing to lose, and giving kids a safe place to hang out and talk...Period 8, lunch. There were times when I, as the public school teacher, cringed as he invited kids into his home at night, and talked to them on the phone. The world wouldn't probably let that happen...

But this book isn't about Logs...it's about the kids who feel safe in his Period 8 -- what's said there, stays there. Everyone honors confidentiality...or do they? Into this group of bright kids, Crutcher has inserted a masked student...someone who is not what he or she appears to be.

I loved the third-person narrator. Usually we only get to know the inside of one character's heart; but here, we see the struggles and triumphs of several students: Paulie, who's been thrust into the role of his mother's confidant, the boy who will try to save the world...the boy who will try to out-swim his troubles. Hannah, who doesn't believe in areas of gray in a relationship; Mary, who's dealing with so much more at home than anyone knows...Mary, whose disappearance throws these kids into a horrifying mystery that reaches far beyond Period 8.

I loved the suspense...I knew to look for a sociopath, and easily identified the character...then I watched as webs were spun, people were deceived, lives were ruined.

I love that he pulls NO punches here...kids talk like the kids I know. They think about and do the things my students do. There's a authenticity in the rawness of the language, that rings true to kids, and drives adults crazy. We don't want to believe kids know these things, say these things. He knows different, and he's courageous enough to be truthful. It would be easier to soften the language and situations. But it would be a lie.
I trust Crutcher's storytelling, and his instincts for kids. I trust his storytelling, his passion for doing the right thing, the hard thing. I fall in love with each of his heroes, and I love his strong girls.

This book has the richness and narrative layers you expect of Picoult, but his insights into kids is even deeper.
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