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GUEST REVIEW: Deadline by Chris Crutcher

Dear Mr. Crutcher,

006085089201lzzzzzzzI picked up your book DEADLINE because my middle teenage daughter has a problem sitting still for long enough to read her required books for English, and when she does read them, she needs help absorbing them. She started your book, handed it to me and demanded to know "Is the main character really dying????"
As in she couldn’t believe her eyes. So I opened the book and read.

Yes, the main character is dying. Almost stopped reading right there because my kid-in-jeopardy tolerance is pretty low. But here’s the thing. I couldn’t. You sucked me right in with your easy, sardonic wit and devastating charm coated in a bluntness that as an author myself, I loved. Our hero is Ben Wolf, a pint-sized, eighteen year old who lives in a small town in Idaho. He has big things planned for his senior year, big things that don’t include a fatal blood disease.

But he takes the cards he’s dealt. Because he’s eighteen, he’s allowed to keep his terminal disease a secret from his crazy mother, distanced father and beloved brother. It’s a decision Ben claims to be positive about, but his inner id, whom he affectionately calls Hey-Soos, keeps poking at him with a stick to wake up and smell the roses, because by not telling, he’s living a lie, a lie that will devastate those who love him.

I loved how Ben sticks his head in the sand about this and goes about doing things that he’d never trusted himself to do before. A bucket list for the teenager set if you will. He decides to go out for football, all 123 pounds of him. He decides to try to get laid by the prettiest girl in school — Dallas. He decides to drive his closed-minded teacher crazy. And he decides to help the local drunk become sober.

And shock of all shocks, it turns out that he can play football more than decently, even with his diminutive statue. And the pretty girl, Dallas, is even prettier on the inside, and best of all, she likes him back. And his teacher isn’t so hard to drive crazy after all. And the town drunk appears to be a shockingly normal guy when he’s sober.

Except.

Except . . . living with a secret sucks. Especially when his brother wants and needs Ben to go to college with him and continue to interpret his football plays to make him look like a superstar. And Dallas. God, Dallas. Ben falls for her, and falls hard, but even more of a miracle, she falls for him. Which means she’s not the throwaway adventure he’d thought. And he’s leaving. There’s no getting around that. He’s out of here. Off Planet Earth in less than six months. As he begins to understand what his dying is going to do to those who love him, his resolve to keep his secret starts to crumble. Even more unsettling, he’s not the only one with secrets. Big secrets. Life destroying, soul crushing secrets that I’m not going to reveal here and ruin the plot because this is a book worth reading, more than once, if only for the gut wrenching realization that we should live every damn day the best that we can.

Suffice it to say, Mr. Crutcher, you hooked me. You hooked me with how real the teens were depicted, including profanity, fear, sex, everything. You made me care about these characters, about their relationships, and the tangled web they wove. You shocked me, more than once, and that was good. My daughter actually read a whole book, and that in itself is probably the biggest compliment I can pay you. I loved this book, I was both destroyed and enlightened by this book, and look forward to more from you.

Jill Shalvis
When she’s not reading, USA Today bestselling romance author Jill Shalvis is at work on her next novel. INSTANT ATTRACTION is in stores now. See her daily blog for more details, her crazy mountain adventures, and contests.

This book can be purchased in hardcover, trade paperback beginning April 21, 2009. No ebook format found.

Guest Reviewer

25 Comments

  1. Megan Shalvis
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:11:55

    Hey Mom, cool review. Want to write my book report for me?

    ReplyReply

  2. Lucinda Betts
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:28:13

    Great review! You make me want to read it!

    ReplyReply

  3. Jaci Burton
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:29:15

    Wow. This book sounds awesome. Off to buy it for me and College Girl to read. Thanks for the heads up, Jill!

    And LOL @ Megan.

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  4. Jill Shalvis
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:36:54

    Lucinda, I hope you do read it, and Jaci, love that you’re going to read it with your daughter. It’s been two weeks since I read it and it’s still with me. I wish that happened more often!

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  5. Leslie Kelly
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:57:26

    Jill, even before I got to the bottom of the post and realized you had written it, I’d decided to grab this book. It sounds wonderful, and I want to read it myself, as well as giving it to my kids. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  6. Brussel Sprout
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 13:57:19

    There’s a terrific book called Before I Die, by Jenny Downham, similar theme but from the perspective of a British girl. It is really beautifully written, very poignant and touching. Deadline sounds terrific too.

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  7. Maureen Child
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 14:03:30

    WOW. I’m convinced. What a great review, Jill………Gotta read this book.

    ReplyReply

  8. Liz V.
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 14:11:20

    What a beautiful review of a book! I’ll be picking it up for my teenage daughter and I to read.

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  9. Kate Davies
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 15:58:04

    I love, love, LOVE Chris Crutcher’s work. Everything I’ve ever read by him. Thanks for cluing me in to a title I hadn’t found yet.

    Can’t wait till my kids are old enough for me to recommend his stuff.

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  10. Jory Strong
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 16:11:01

    Great review! I’ve read his work before and really loved it. This book sounds like one that’ll end up on the keeper shelf.

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  11. Susan/DC
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 16:17:31

    You’ve made the book irresistible. I was planning an online book order tomorrow, and this now gets immediately added to the list. Another YA that is beautiful, funny, poignant, and sad (how could a book narrated by Death not have its immensely sad moments?) is Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I loved that book to pieces and have recommended it to everyone, from my 26 y.o. son to a teacher friend (who then assigned it to her sophomore HS English class) to my book club (where both the men and women loved it, which is not always the case).

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  12. Gena
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 16:41:58

    Jill,

    This one is a must buy. Thanks so much for telling us about it. I can’t wait to read it.

    ReplyReply

  13. Karin
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 16:51:38

    Great review, Jill! I haven’t heard of this author before, but I may have to go look for this book now.

    ReplyReply

  14. Heather
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 17:49:21

    I’ve loved his stuff since I discovered it as a teenager many, many years ago. Stotan will probably always be my favorite.

    ReplyReply

  15. Tae
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 18:08:50

    wow… that’s some review, definitely goes on my must read pile now

    ReplyReply

  16. Marianne McA
    Feb 17, 2009 @ 07:58:46

    Okay, I’m buying. But after that, I’m going to stop buying books until I’ve read those I’ve already bought. I’m verging on having a TBR pile for the first time in my life, and it’s making me uneasy.

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  17. S. W. Vaughn
    Feb 17, 2009 @ 08:48:46

    Oh my. I want to read this book so badly. But again, I really don’t want to read this book. Because I can already tell that I will cry for a month after I read this book. But I have to read this book!

    Crap. Guess I’m going to read this book. :-)

    Thanks for the great review!

    ReplyReply

  18. CEmerson
    Feb 17, 2009 @ 15:59:24

    What a delight to see this book reviewed here! I read it a year or so ago and was really taken with the voice, and with the non-maudlin treatment of a huge heavy subject. (More than one, actually – but I won’t spoil the other secrets either!)

    And Jill, if your daughter was engaged by the sardonic, self-deprecating male voice, she might enjoy the YA books of John Green. Looking for Alaska (again, kind of a heavy topic), An Abundance of Katherines (his best, IMO), Paper Towns.

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  19. Marianne McA
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 09:42:33

    Just to say, now that I’ve read it – thanks for the review, it is a great book. I’m glad I bought it. (Couldn’t quite follow the football passages, not being American, but I think I got the gist.)
    I’m going to suggest my daughters read it – I hope they will.

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  20. C.M. Daniels
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 14:00:17

    Chris Crutcher is a wonderful YA author. So far, my favorite of his is “Whale Talk”.

    I’ll have to put this one on my wish list.

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  21. Jill Shalvis
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 14:40:47

    I love that some of you have already gotten and read this book. I can’t wait to try another of his. I am trying to decide which one! Stotan or Whale Talk . . . ??

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  22. Kelly Milner Halls
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 08:25:29

    I’d suggest you put STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES on the top of your Chris Crutcher list, too. It’s in a three-way tie with DEADLINE and WHALE TALK as my favorite of his wonderful novels. But there’s not a bad book in the bunch.

    GREAT review of DEADLINE, btw. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Like you, I discovered his work when my daughter was frustrated (at 14) with all the “boring” books she had to read for English class. I thought I’d found a promising author for her, when in fact I’d found a new favorite author for myself, too. Don’t you love it when that happens?

    Have a great day.

    Kelly

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  23. Margie
    Apr 01, 2009 @ 19:16:16

    AWESOME review
    thanks for writting it:)
    i already read this book and like you i was also sucked right into the moment i finished the first 3 pages.
    My mom is the one who actually got me into this book also but she hasn’t read it. bummer she should.LOL
    well keep reading and writting
    God Bless

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  24. Brennen
    Jun 03, 2010 @ 17:51:27

    I read this book for high school, and to be honest it does not depict high schoolers at all. I’m here trying to figure out Dallas’s son’s name for a book report because I forgot, and I just figured I’d leave a comment. It’s just a tacky love story, it’s decent throughout the story besides some bad parts, and then the end is stuffed up with so much morals you could choke to death. I would rather read a real book like The Heroin Diaries, but that’s just the male demographic, not hating on you or your review, but I’m a typical guy, and I think the typical guy will just look at it like drama garbage.

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  25. chastine
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 14:11:19

    He came to Mt.Sterling ky, just to talk about that book… It was awsome.

    ReplyReply

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