In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

THE BIG CRUNCH by Pete Hautman

copyright date: January 2011
primarily marketed for: young adult (8th grade and up)

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman is a book of rare quality.  It is one of the very elite books that could give any John Green book a run for its money.  That is high praise. 

This story of Wes and June opens, “The first time Wes saw June, he thought she was kind of funny-looking.”  Aren’t you charmed already? 

The Big Crunch is a love story with universal appeal.  It is one of the few books I would call a romance for guys.  And he gets inside the head and heart of both Wes and June in equal doses.  Although I still sense that Wes is the protagonist here—it is more his story than it is June’s. 

I am confident Hautman got Wes’s character right because he certainly wrote June accurately as a female teen in love.  I continuously found myself wondering how Pete Hautman could possibly know exactly what went on in my mind when I was her age.  He is spot-on when it comes to describing the confusion and the way our actions don’t always make sense, even to ourselves.

I read a School Library Journal review of this book at that said, “With rapid-fire dialogue and plenty of sappy language, the author nails the confused, self-absorbed teen characters obsessed with first love. However, the plot falls flat by focusing too closely on what love feels like instead of building a story.”  How is love not story enough?  And I didn’t read the characters as self-absorbed or obsessed at all.  I read the characters as, well, real.  I wouldn’t call the language the least bit sappy.  It is witty, well-crafted.  So well-crafted, in fact that I found myself stopping every few chapters to absorb the story instead of plowing ahead to barrel through the plot. 

The one thing that reviewer is right about is that this is not a plot-driven story.  When I got close to the end I was wondering how it was going to be tied up since there was no big climax.  Yet, Hautman managed to provide closure brilliantly.  The flow of the book was so natural to me that it surprised me to find out Hautman had originally ended Wes and June’s journey 100 pages earlier, only to hear from his editor (David Levithan) that there needed to be more.  His editor was right.  I enjoyed every moment in this year of Wes and June’s lives. You will too.

1 comment:

  1. I've never heard of this book...thanks for bringing it to my attention!