Period.8 by Chris Crutcher
Hardcover, COMING SOON!
Chris Crutcher has done it again. With his latest novel, Period.8, the “King of the Boy Books” (a title not meant to gender his work but to represent his mass appeal to the male young adult audience) has “turned it up a notch,” going well beyond the type of Crutcher story that we have come to expect and love. As a reading specialist and English teacher for 17 years (working mostly with struggling secondary readers), I use Chris Crutcher as my “go to” author when I am trying to find a book that will “hook” a reluctant reader. Crutcher’s work has it all: believable characters we love, a storyline that keeps us enthralled, and a message that resounds loudly with important life lessons. Period.8 offers all of these elements and more, entrenching readers in a mystery that takes reading the entire book to solve.
Period.8 introduces us to complex, realistic, and skillfully woven characters with whom readers can identify. Bruce Logsdon is the kind of teacher every kid wants and needs. His classroom is an open forum to a wide array of students during their lunch period. It is his hope, as it is for all truly passionate teachers, to have a safe haven for kids to discuss issues in their lives and hopefully influence these students in a positive way. This exceptional educator knows the reality of the issues that get in the way of learning. His classroom is filled with a diverse student body that realistically mirrors students in today’s high school classroom. The school nerd, the jocks, the varying types of girls (from aggressive to demure), the leaders, and the bully are all represented accurately and honestly. The dialogue Crutcher creates could have been taken verbatim from any local high school. By depicting his characters in a realistic way, Crutcher creates a story that resonates with young adults and adults alike.
Paulie Bomb, the lead teen character, and Logsdon bond in another way: their love for swimming. As these two train together, Crutcher weaves vivid scenes of swimming with the development of a friendship that benefits both characters. When Paulie makes a bad choice, it is Logsdon whom Paulie turns to, as his parents are struggling through issues in their marriage that Bomb feels might be passed on to him in his own relationships.
As the plot thickens and the Period. 8 students deal with the disappearance of one of their own members, Crutcher spins a story that leaves the reader unable to stop reading until the end. The harsh realities of life are boldly portrayed as the topics of struggling through teen drug use, dating, intimacy issues, parental influence and control, and controlling one’s own destiny are all concerns that Crutcher successfully has the reader thoughtfully contemplate in a way that will, no doubt, open up the minds and hearts of readers.
What this book dealer appreciates most is the novel’s message that we all must learn from our mistakes to avoid repeating them again. All readers (especially those in the lower 25%) can expect to learn from his stories and find hope in the message that there are people who care. As Logsdon accurately states, “If we raise our kids so they can’t think then sooner or later, your kids will be in trouble.” The relationship between this amazing teacher and his students rings true. With so many issues in our society that our teens now face, in addition to a lack of role models, Crutcher’s novels provide our students with food for thought that can positively influence them for a lifetime and will even affect the choices they make in a positive manner. His books are what I term “hybrid.” Not only are they books that young adults find highly appealing, but they are also crossover novels that adults enjoy reading. I know that an author has really left a lasting impression on me when a text prompts me to think in a new way. The King reigns with Period. 8, a triumph that is not to be missed.