4.8 13
by Chris Crutcher

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Stotan: A cross between a Stoic and a Spartin

It's the last swimming season for Walker, Nortie, Lion, and Jeff, and their coach is building their self-discipline in a grueling four-hour-a-day test of stamina designed to bring them to the outer edge of their capabilities.

As it turns out, Stotan Week is also the week in which secrets

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Stotan: A cross between a Stoic and a Spartin

It's the last swimming season for Walker, Nortie, Lion, and Jeff, and their coach is building their self-discipline in a grueling four-hour-a-day test of stamina designed to bring them to the outer edge of their capabilities.

As it turns out, Stotan Week is also the week in which secrets are revealed, and the four friends must draw upon their new strengths for an endurance they never knew they'd need.

Editorial Reviews

English Journal
Filled with humor and compassion.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
To be a Stotan (a cross between a Stoic and a Spartan) is to push one's physical and emotional capabilities beyond the limit, as four high school swimmers find out when they accept the challenge of a week-long endurance test devised by their coach. Though it is swim team captain Walker Dupree who narrates, this is every bit as much an ensemble novel as it is four individual stories. Each young man pursues a personal goal, but together the team pursues demons outside the group, ranging from an ``anonymous'' neo-Nazi association distributing offensive newspapers to the abusive father of one of the boys, who drives his son to suicide. But a demon bigger than any individual or group effort comes along when illness strikes one of these Stotan young men. Then the team finds out that you can't always make sense of everything, you can only go after it with your best shot. Crutcher has written an involving, realistic novel; though it deals with tough, unsolvable issues it is often leavened with humor. (12-up)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Crutcher is a sports translator, transforming sports into an idiom for life, making the spirit and power of sports understandable to enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts. Sports always figure in his young adult novels. In Stotan, swimmers are "hard guys who feel no pain try it out in the real world."
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up A fine coming-of-age novel. Walker Dupree, the captain of Frost (Spokane, Wash.) High School's swim team, chronicles the senior year of the tight fraternity of young men who make up the team. Lionel, orphaned at 14, faces a sometimes hostile world alone; Nortie lives with an abusive father whom he loves but can never please; Jeff, a brash youth with everything to live for is terminally ill. Swim coach Max Il Song tests these four young men unmercifully during Stotan Week, but he gives them a reservoir of strength they more than need before their season is over. The boys are typical of many teenagers; they think a lot about sex; their language isn't always clean. They face difficult, adult situationsviolence, racial prejudice, Jeff's impending death. Crutcher's novel more than moves and entertains; it teaches. It teaches young people about responsibility, about courage and heroism, and ultimately about life itself. Stotan! is very, very, good. Jerry Flack, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

November 5

We saw the notice about Stotan Week on the bulletin board just off the deep end of the pool after our early-morning workout today. It was already curling at the edges from the high humidity and chlorine content of the air, a lot the way my skin feels after a good three-hour workout.

"What's a Stotan Week?" Nortie asked, glancing quickly around at the rest of us. It sounded like a riddle.

No response; we just looked at him, then back to the notice, which read:


Dec. 17 to Dec. 21
8 a.m. to Noon Daily
Volunteers Only

Looking for a few good men

"December 17," Nortie said. "That's the start of vacation. How come it's at the start of vacation? What's a Stotan Week?"

Jeff looked at him again. "All in favor of Nortie checking out Stotan Week with Max and reporting back to us, say 'aye.'"

Lion and I said, "Aye."

"Sorry, guys, not me. I'm not asking. I don't even want to know. You do it, Walker; you're the captain."

Max makes Nortie nervous because he's quiet and it's hard to tell what he's thinking a lot of the time. Nortie's not emotionally equipped to talk to Max.

"Nortie," I said, "I'm worried about you. You're a senior in high school. You could actually graduate if the folks in the office forget how to count. You have to learn to talk to people. 9'

"I talk," he said, "but this is a job for the captain. This looks like one of Max's tricks. If I ask him, he'll just look at me like I'm in advanced Special Ed or try to get me to believe somethingreally strange."

We heard the door slam and the flapping of Max's rubber thongs as he came through the equipment room toward the pool deck where we stood. Nortie nodded toward me. Max stopped in the doorway.

I said, "Hi, Max. How's it going?" I let Nortie off the hook. "What's a Stotan Week?"

Max smiled. "Take a chance; show up on the seventeenth and find out."

"Says here it's voluntary," I said. "I like to know what I'm volunteering for."

"Sometimes it's better not to know."

Nortie flinched a little. "I'll bet it's tough, huh?"

Max shrugged. "Wouldn't be surprised."

Lion walked over and sat on the low board, rocking back and forth on his big arms, looking at Max, who's about half his size. "What happens if we decide not to volunteer?"

"You won't get the benefit of Stotan Week," Max said, and walked over to drop the thermometer in the water. He tied the long string to the ladder and let it dangle, then got the chemical testing kit out of the pump room to check the PH and chlorine levels. We had learned all we were going to learn about Stotan Week for today.

"See you guys at workout," he said.

I don't know that any of us will ever know what makes Max tick. He started coaching here at Frost my freshman year and I don't know him much better than I did the first day I walked into the pool area. Not really. He's one of those guys you only know by what they do. You have to guess how they are.

Max is Korean; his last name is Il Song. Not Korea Korean, though; Great Falls, Montana, Korean. He grew up on a ranch just outside of Great Falls-sort of a Korean cowboy, I guess-but he's also spent some time in the Orient, in Korea itself and in Japan, and his parents are from Seoul, so he has a pretty mixed background.

I'll say one thing about him straightaway: he's a tough hombre. He has a third-degree black belt in Tai Kwan Do, which is a kind of karate, and I've seen him kick an apple off the head of a guy 6'8". It doesn't matter that Lion's twice his size.

I know we'll all show for Stotan Week, whatever it is even though it'll certainly alter the extra week of Christmas vacation we're getting this year-and I know something else: it won't be easy.

We start the early-morning workout at 5:30. Max doesn't show up for it, just leaves instructions on the board. He's always been real clear that we get out of swimming just what we put into it, and if we let down because he's not around, we'll never be that good anyway. We've been together long enough that we push each other hard without him, and the morning workouts are just conditioning, not technique, so we don't miss him as long as he lets us know what we're supposed to do. Besides, he says he hates to get up that early, but doesn't mind a bit if we do. It all works out.

The four of us have spent all our high-school years at Frost, and have been pretty much the core of the swimming team. And, except for girlfriends, have been at the core of each other's lives. Back in grade school and Junior High we swam on the summer AAU team together, so we go back a long ways. There's another member of our little group of musketeers, but she's a girl and isn't on the team, though she works out with us. That's Elaine. Talent-wise, she's probably better than any of us, except maybe Nortie, but she's out of the competition business these days--burned out at seventeen-and works out only to keep in shape and be part of our group. She's into more cosmic things now...

. Copyright (c) by Chris Crutcher . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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