Whale Talk

( 54 )

Overview

Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students.

Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and ...

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Overview

Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students.

Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Crutcher's (Running Loose; Ironman) gripping tale of small-town prejudice delivers a frank, powerful message about social issues and ills. Representing one-third of his community's minority population ("I'm black. And Japanese. And white"), narrator T.J. Jones voices a darkly ironic appraisal of the high school sports arena. Despite his natural athletic ability (at 13, he qualified for the Junior Olympics in two swimming events), T.J. has steered away from organized sports until his senior year, when Mr. Simet, a favorite English teacher, implores him to help form a swim team for the school (and thereby help the teacher save his job). T.J. sees an opportunity to get revenge on the establishment and invites outcasts to participate on the team; he ends up with "a representative from each extreme of the educational spectrum, a muscle man, a giant, a chameleon, and a psychopath." As might be expected, he accomplishes his mission: his motley crew of swimmers is despised by more conventional athletes (and coaches). The swimmers face many obstacles, but their dedication to their sport and each other grows stronger with every meet. The gradual unfolding of characters' personal conflicts proves to be as gripping as the evolution of the team's efforts. Through T.J.'s narration, Crutcher offers an unusual yet resonant mixture of black comedy and tragedy that lays bare the superficiality of the high school scene. The book's shocking climax will force readers to re-examine their own values and may cause them to alter their perception of individuals pegged as "losers." Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
"Featuring narrator T.J. Jones's darkly ironic appraisal of the high school sports arena, this gripping tale of smalltown prejudice delivers a frank, powerful message about social issues and ills," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Dec.)
KLIATT
This ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults was reviewed in KLIATT, March 2001: T.J. is a high school senior of mixed race—black, Japanese, and white—living in the almost all-white small town of Cutter in Washington. He's adopted, but his attitude is "Big deal; so was Superman," and he adores his adoptive parents. Neglect and abandonment by his birth mother has left him with a deep-seated rage and an urge to protect the weak of the world. T.J. is intellectually as well as athletically gifted, but he's always resisted joining any of the school's sports teams: "something in me recoils at being told what to do." When his English teacher asks him to start a swim team, however, T.J. sees the opportunity to help out some underdogs and to spit in the face of the town jocks. He puts together a team of misfits—one is mentally handicapped, one is obese, one is one-legged, and so on—and with the help of the teacher and a friendly man who sleeps in the local health club, the team goes on to triumph, in their own fashion, working hard and bonding as a group. Meanwhile, T.J. has made some powerful enemies, and matters come to a head when a mother and her abused multiracial daughter take refuge in T.J.'s house and an unexpected tragedy ensues. Crutcher (author of Ironman, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and other YA novels) is one of the best YA authors around. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and a child protection specialist, he understands the antiauthoritarian anger of teenage boys as well as the sports milieu he writes about so well. Here he tackles racism and prejudice as well as issues of violence, abuse, and forgiveness in a powerful story that will grab readers right away and havethem rooting for the appealing and heroic T.J. Told with passion and humor, this is a real winner. Some profanity and violence. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Random House, Dell Laurel Leaf, 220p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
From The Critics
The narrator of Whale Talk is a The Tao Jones (his given name and pronounced Dow Jones); he is Black, Japanese, and White. The son of a woman who abandoned him when she got heavily into crack and crank, he grew up as a child filled with rage. Now, thanks to the help of a good therapist and good, loving, ex-hippie adoptive parents, T. J. has turned out to a pretty decent and even-keeled human being. One thing he is not and will never be, though, is a conformist. The Tao Jones (T. J.) is particularly sensitive to injustice; when the high school bully and big deal football star taunts brain-damaged Chris Coughlin, who wears his dead brother's football letter jacket, T. J. seeks revenge. His clever weapon of choice is the creation of a high school swim (despite the fact that his school has no pool) so he can prove that a band of school misfits are capable of winning coveted letter jackets, just like the cocky football players. Chris Crutcher writes in a style that reminds me of Stephen King. Although the violence in the book may be unsettling to some, the work does manage to combine craziness and realism to underscore the impact of coming to terms with differences. The swim team, and the togetherness this band of unlikely characters enjoys, help school outcasts find the true acceptance and friendship they've never had before. Kids read Chris Crutcher (Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Ironman, Athletic Shorts) because his works speak for them; he advocates in a manner that adults should pay attention to, as well. 2001, Greenwillow, 224 pp.,
— Len DeAngelis
VOYA
Cartoon character Pogo's words "We have met the enemy and he is us" chillingly describe Crutcher's latest book in which hatred simmers, boils, and burns its characters. Narrator-protagonist T. J. is multiracial—black/Japanese/white—intellectually and athletically gifted, and sarcastic, his words both hilarious and insightful. T. J. eschews school sports until linebacker Mike harasses mentally handicapped Chris for wearing his deceased brother's team jacket, donning an unearned letter and unwittingly affronting those whose letters were merited. When administrators and the football alumni president condoned Mike, T. J. could not. Three years ago, T. J. had been victimized by Rich, the alumni president, and Mike after hearing them brag of a does they had killed and talk of its still-living fawn. Adopted and anti-hunting, T. J. empathized with the orphaned animal, attempting to rescue it before the animal is killed by the men who then attacked T. J. His response to their cruelty is to wear his bloodied clothes to school for a week. His action was encouraged by his attorney mother, whose practice centers on child abuse cases, and his wise father, a victim of a tragic past and now an advocated for the abused. T. J. now cannily forms a swim team under the guidance of his mentor teacher, although the school lacks a pool. His team, which features "one swimmer of color, a representative from each extreme of the educational spectrum, a muscle man, a giant, a chameleon, and a one-legged psychopath" to further infuriate administrators, practices at a commercial pool using unorthodox methods. As the team swims toward their goal of each member receiving a letter in the sport, administratorswork toward denying them. Meanwhile, T. J.'s family receives custody of Rich's biracial child and becomes the target of his malicious and increasingly unstable behavior that stems from bigotry and anger. Readers should beware—although the ending is foreshadowed, it is shocking and horrifying, yet sadly realistic. Here "Whale Talk"—truth and self-knowledge—emerges, demanding characters' self-realization or change while demonstrating that bigotry plus hate will steal one's soul. Curiously this novel borrows heavily from other works—T. J., the team, and their teacher recollect Ironman (Greenwillow, 1995/VOYA June 1995); the swimming renews Stotan! (Greenwillow, 1986/VOYA April 1986); and the football mentality mirrors Running Loose (Dell, 1983/VOYA April 1983). The reliance on earlier themes might disappoint Crutcher fans, but will not deter them from devouring the book. Crutcher is at his darkest but also his funniest here, and the book conveys his most timely message—forgiveness, not revenge. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Greenwillow, 219p, . Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Lisa A. Spiegel SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Children's Literature
It is hard enough living with the name The Tao Jones, but seventeen-year-old T. J. is also partially black, white and Japanese. The only thing more diverse than his gene pool is the swim team he assembles for Cutter High. When Chris, a brain-damaged student, gets hassled by super-jock Mike for "illegally" wearing his dead brother's letter jacket, T. J. recruits "a muscle man, a giant, a chameleon, and a one-legged psychopath" to form a team on which Chris can earn his own jacket. Readers will love this unlikely lineup of misfits who practice at the All Night Fitness pool with their custom-tape mix blaring rock, rap and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." A multi-layered plot includes the history behind T. J.'s personal rage, his foster father's bizarre karmic destiny, and an alumnus who makes his mixed-race daughter scrub away her blackness with a Brillo pad. Some of the details seem unbelievable, but readers will be so anxiously anticipating the not-so-predictable showdown between jocks, coaches, and "Cutter Mermen" they won't care. Once again, Crutcher captures perfectly the emotions and humor of teens facing injustices. His sensitive treatment imparts dignity and depth to kids that are different while telling one whale of an entertaining story. 2001, Greenwillow, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-T. J. Jones, the mixed-race, larger-than-life, heroic, first-person narrator of this novel, lays out the events of his senior year, with many digressions along the way. The central plot involves T. J.'s efforts to put together a swim team of misfits, as he tries to upset the balance of power at his central Washington high school, where jocks and the narrow-minded rule. However, a number of subplots deal with racism, child abuse, and the efforts of the protagonist's adopted father to come to grips with a terrible mistake in his past. Crutcher uses a broad brush in an undeniably robust and energetic story that is also somewhat messy and over the top in places. T. J. himself is witty, self-assured, fearless, intelligent, and wise beyond his years. In fact, he has all of these qualities in such abundance that he's not an entirely plausible character. The novel's ending sweeps to a crescendo of emotions, as T. J.'s mentally tortured father saves a life and atones for past sins by diving in front of a bullet and dying in his son's arms. Young adults with a taste for melodrama will undeniably enjoy this effort. More discerning readers will have to look harder for the lovely passages and truths that aren't delivered with a hammer.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
High-school senior The Tao (T.J.) Jones has learned to live with his status as the only student of color in his small, rural high school, but he has never learned to accept the school's suffocating reverence for the athletic establishment. When his ultra-cool English teacher approaches T.J. to swim for the school's brand-new team, T.J. looks beyond the negatives-there is no competition-size pool in town, there are no other competitive swimmers in the school, and he absolutely hates organized sports-to one overwhelming positive: this is his way of giving the finger to the school's stultifying sports culture. He assembles a team of out-and-out losers that would make James Watt proud: "we have one swimmer of color, a representative from each end of the educational spectrum, a muscle man, a giant, a chameleon, and a one-legged psychopath. When I envision us walking seven abreast through the halls of Cutter High, decked out in the sacred blue and gold, my heart swells." There is no shortage of raw emotion in this story. The swim-team members indulge in lengthy informal therapy sessions on their bus trips to away meets, and one subplot involves T.J.'s growing attachment to a little biracial girl whose mother cannot protect her from the vicious racist attacks of her own stepfather-who also happens to be the school's biggest athletic booster. In the hands of a lesser storyteller, the tale would fall apart under its own weight, but Crutcher (Ironman, 1995, etc.) juggles the disparate elements of his plot with characteristic energy, crafting a compulsively readable story that rings true with genuine feeling and is propelled by exhilarating swimming action to anending that is bothcataclysmic and triumphant. A welcome return. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061771316
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 64,578
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Crutcher has written nine critically acclaimed novels, an autobiography, and two collections of short stories. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and child protec-tion specialist, Crutcher writes honestly about real issues facing teenagers today: making it through school, competing in sports, handling rejection and failure, and dealing with parents. He has won three lifetime achievement awards for the body of his work: the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award. Chris Crutcher lives in Spokane, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In the end, write it down. Back up and find the story. Mr. Simet, my English and Journalism teacher, says the best way to write a story, be it fact or fiction, is to believe aliens will find it someday and make a movie, and you don't want them making Ishtar. The trick is to dig out the people and events that connect, and connect them. No need to worry about who's wearing Nike and who's wearing Reebok, or anybody's hat size or percentage of body fat. Like Jack Webb on the Dragnet series on Nick at Nite says, "Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts."

The facts. I'm black. And Japanese. And white. Politically correct would be African-American, Japanese-American and what? Northern European-American? God, by the time I wrote all that down on a job application the position would be filled. Besides, I've never been to Africa, never been to Japan and don't even know which countries make up Northern Europe. Plus, I know next to nothing about the individuals who contributed all that exotic DNA, so it's hard to carve out a cultural identity in my mind. So: Mixed. Blended. Pureed. Potpourri.

Adopted.

Big deal; so was Superman.

And I like Superman, I was adopted by great people. The woman I call Mom - who is Mom - Abby Jones, was in the hospital following her fourth miscarriage (and final attempt) at the miracle of birth) where she met my biological mother, Glenda, right after my presumed bio-dad, Stephan, had assisted in my natural childbirth only to come eyeball-to-eyeball with the aforementioned UNICEF poster boy. A second-generation German-American married to a woman ofSwiss-Norwegian descent, he was a goner before my toes cleared the wet stuff. Any way he matched up the fruit flies, he couldn't come up with me. Because my mom is one of those magic people with the natural capacity to make folks in shitty circumstances feel less shitty, she consoled Glenda and even brought her home until she could get her feet on the ground. Evidently Glenda was as surprised as Stephan; she'd had a one-night stand with my sperm donor to get even for a good thumping and had no idea the tall black-Japanese poet's squiggly swimmer was the one in a billion to crash through to the promised land.

Things sped rapidly downhill for Glenda as a single mother, and two years later, when she brought Child Protection Services crashing down on herself, getting heavily into crack and crank and heavily out of taking care of me, she remembered Mom's kindness, tracked her downa nd begged her to take me. Mom and Dad didn't blink - almost as if they were expecting me, to hear them tell it - and all of a sudden I was the rainbow-coalition kid of two white, upwardly mobile ex-children of the sixties.

Actually, only Mom was upwardly mobile. She's a lawyer, working for the assistant attorney general's office, mostly on child-abuse cases. Dad likes motorcycles; he's just mobile.

We never did hear from Glenda again, Mom says probably because the separation was too painful and shameful. Sometimes I find myself longing for her, just to see or talk with her, discover more about the unsettledness within me; but most of the time that ache sits in a shaded corner of my mind, a vague reminder of what it is not to be wanted. At the same time all that seems out of place, because I remember nothing about her; not what she looked like or the sound of her voice or even the touch of her hand. I do admit to having a few laughs imagining how history rewrote itself inside Stephan's head when my shiny brown head popped out.

It's interesting being "of color" in a part of the country where Mark Fuhrman has his own radio talk show. My parents have always encouraged me to be loud when I run into racism, but I can't count on racism being loud when it runs into me. Very few people come out and say they don't like you because you aren't white; when you're younger it comes at a birthday party you learn about after the fact, or later, having a girl say yes to a date only to come back after discussing it with her parents, having suddenly remembered she has another engagement that night. Not much to do about that but let it register and don't forget it. I learned in grade school that the color of a person's skin has to do only with where their way-long-ago ancestors originated, so my mind tells me all racists are either ignorant or so down on themselves they need somebody to be better than. Most of the time telling myself that works. Once in a while my gut pulls rank on my mind, and I'm compelled to get ugly.

I called "All News All Talk Radio" a couple of days after the first time I heard the spectacularly racially sensitive ex-L.A. detective giving Spokane and the rest of the Inland Empire the hot poop on big-time crime fighting. The talk show I called had featured the mayors of an eastern Washington and a north Idaho town declaring that the racist label put on this region is undeserved, blown out of proportion due to the presence of the Ryan Nations fort over in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and the existence of several small militias spread out between central Washington and eastern Montana.

The mayors had departed when the talk-jock finally said, "We're talking with T.J. from Cutter, about fifty miles outside our great city."

I said, "So this racist label, it's undeserved?"

'I believe it is," he said. "An entire region can't be held responsible for the ignorant actions of a few. Certainly you can't argue with that."

"You're right," I said. "I can't. But if the racist label is about perceptions, and in this case, undeserved perceptions, why would you guys have the Mark Fuhrman show?"

"Have you tuned into Mark's show?"

"Not purposely," I said, "but I was scanning the stations and landed right on him."

"How long did you listen?"

"Long enough to convince myself it was really him, that you guys weren't just pulling my chain."

"Then you heard a man who knows a lot about crime prevention and an accomplished professional radio man."

I said, "His voice was okay."

The jock said, "What's your point, T.J.?"

"That if you guys are running the most powerful AM station in the region and you're worried about people's perceptions of that region as racist, you might think twice before you give one of the true icons of racism in this country two hours of drive-time radio every week."

"We didn't hire Mark to talk about race relations. We hired him to talk about criminals and the criminal mind, and about the intricacies of police work. He's written books on the subject, you know."

"You didn't hire him because of his famous name?"

"No, sir, we did not."

"So when you decided your listeners needed to learn about Spokane, Washington, police work, you figured you'd get better expertise from a dishonored ex-L.A. cop rather than some retired veteran Spokane cop who might have covered Spokane's streets for twenty-five or thirty years?"

He said, "How old are you?"

"What does that matter?"

"Your voice sounds like a kid."

"You tell me why that matters, and I'll tell you how old I am."

"It matters because if you're too young, you might lack the experience to carry on this conversation intelligently."

"I'm a fifty-six-year-old retired Spokane policeman." I said, and paused a moment. "Guess I don't have the voice for it." I hung up.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(33)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2009

    The Book That Changed My Life

    Whale Talk is a more than a high school sports story. It's a bible for how to be a man in a world that is getting more crazy everyday. If you're reading my review, you probably already know the plot from previous reviews, so I'll say something different. Tj Jones is a class act, and a role model for how to be humble and decent when blessed with extordianry talents. Whale Talk made me laugh, made me think, and made me almost cry. It changed my life, and I garantee it will change yours too, if only in a small way.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2013

    This isn¿t a book I would normally pick up to read because sport

    This isn’t a book I would normally pick up to read because sports novels really aren’t my thing, but since I am seriously lacking sports novels on my Outside Reading List for my students, and students keep asking me to add more, I read this novel on the recommendation of the school librarian.

    Overall, it was a good story. It’s well written and deals with many emotional topics, such as bullying, abuse, hatred, and even death. Crutcher treads lightly, and I liked how he broached each topic throughout his novel, making this a great MG or YA read. Although not really a swim team, T.J. Jones brings together a band of misfits who, through practice, swim meets, and long bus rides, learn to trust one another. Through their personal stories that they share with one another, readers are further able to connect with them on a deeper level, and I enjoyed this aspect of the novel. While I wasn’t necessarily a fan of T.J. and his cocky demeanor, I don’t think he means any harm; he’s just trying to do right by those around him and to dispel the bullying and prejudice others hold against himself, his friends, and even his family. The ending is somewhat depressing, in my opinion, but overall it works to bring everything together and I thought it was a good read. If you have any younger males looking for a good story, especially if they’re into sports, then I highly recommend this novel to them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    Great Young Adult Material

    Surprisingly entertaining. Material is definitely prevalent to today's young adults. Extremely touching. You feel just as strongly for the character Chris and for the main character TJ.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

    Whale Talk: review.

    At Cutter High School T.J. Jones is trying to put a swim team together. However they don't have a pool at there high school. So T.J. gets permission to use a local pool, for free. He then puts a group together formed from misfits at the local high school, to achieve one goal. That goal is to obtain the varsity letter jacket-unattainable for most; T.J. wants to have one of his own. The swim team uses a Cutter High School bus to travel to swim meets-piloted by Icko. T.J. has a natural athletic ability, however he has always been shunned at Cutter High School because, as he says, "something inside me recoils at being told what to do, and that doesn't sit well with most coaches, who are paid to do exactly that." But when T.J.'s teacher asks him to help start a swim team, T.J. cant help himself because he sees a opportunity to earn a Cutter High School varsity letter jacket. To reach his goal T.J. faces the athletic establishment, who doesn't like the idea of a swim team. Especially, because Cutter doesn't have a pool. As the story goes on T.J. starts to learn that it's not only high school's misfits that can't be judged without getting to know them first. (Like judging a book by its cover.) He learns that he can't judge Cutter High's bullies and victims also. What drew me to this book it that I have read Deadline, which is another book by Crutcher. I enjoyed reading Deadline; I loved the storyline and the style of writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    Worst book I have ever read

    I read a lot, probably more then my pocket book should allow me to and this book is going down as the worst one I have ever read to date. The basic premise behind the story is fine but I found myself not liking the main character within pages of starting to read. What could have been a great heart wretching story about growth and tolerance was ruined. This character instantly being smarter and more talented then everyone around him did nothing and actually turned me off from the very beginning and it didn't get better. And as a side note that has nothing to do with the writing, I understand that the main character is a mix of races and they go well out of their way to say that he deals with racism all the time because of the color of his skin, so why on both covers of the book do they put kids with really white skin?? sort of seems like a cheap marketing ploy to me.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    Ash

    Tell him to go there

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Awesome book!!!

    I really liked this book because it wasnt chessy like almost every single book i have read and ive read alot of books. It uses atons of cuss words which made the story sound more real. It also is alittle disturbing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2011

    A horrible and offensive book

    The language in this book was so bad it made me sick. It used probably every swear word you can think of. I would never read any of Crutchers books. He is the most frequently banned authors and is proud of it. I would never recomend this or any of Crutchers other books.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2009

    Whale Talk

    T.J. Jones, the main character of Whale Talk, lives in Spokane, Washington and attends Cutter High School. T.J. is very athletic, but he refuses to try out for the school sports teams. Even though he has been asked several times by team coaches to try out, T.J. does not want to end up like the other self-absorbed athletes of the school. However, this all changes when his English teacher, Mr. Simet, decides to start a swim team for the school because it has never had one. Mr. Simet seeks T.J.'s help by asking him to find students he thinks would be most interested in swimming. Mr. Simet also asks him to swim on the team himself. T.J. hesitantly agrees and groups together six other students, all of whom are not very athletic. By practicing long hours at the All Night Fitness gym, these social outcasts help each other improve on their athletic abilities. Together, the team strives to reach their goal of earning Cutter High letter jackets, which are only given to school athletes when they have reached their letter requirements.

    Whale Talk is a book for young adults. I highly recommend it for teenage athletes. Chris Crutcher explains the many challenges a team faces together as they try to reach their goals and improve their athletic skills. He describes the hardwork and determination that athletes face as they overcome many obstacles. Crutcher also shows how seven very different people came together to form a team. Through this book, athletes of all ages can relate to the dedication that a team must have in order to succeed.

    Tyler

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2009

    Whale Talk Was Great!

    Although I've only just began reading this book, I can honestly and without a doubt say it's one of my favorites. The setting is modern day(within about 5 years of now), in an off town of Spokane city. The main character , T.J Jones(the Jones being redundant) is part black, japanese, and white. He is an amazing athlete and excels in whatever he does, which isn't much since he refuses to go for any sports and become one of the stuck-up jocks of Cutter. That is until he runs into a desperate Mr. Simmet, a teacher at Cutter High(T.J's high school). Simmet wants to start a swim team so that he doesn't have to be a coach's assitant for the wrestling coach. He needs T.J's help, not only to be on the team but to get together the team. At first he is hesitant about this idea, but he comes around seeing an oppurtunity. He then puts together the most socially mixed swim team he could possibly pick up. There is Chris, the semi-slow student that has always been picked on by the football allstars at Cutter, Dan, the smart guy who can't say a sentence with less then ten syllables in it, Simon, a fairly large student being at 5'8'' and weighing 280lbs., Andy, the tall, ill-tempered angry guy with a crossthetic leg, Jackie, inviso-boy, unseen as much as unheard, and finally Tay-Roy, "the stud" body builder, singer, and swimmer extrordinair. Together these guys make the Cutter All Night Mermen, but for how long?, read it and find out!

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

    Whale Talk Hits All Teenage Topics

    Whale Talk
    Student-athletes face many choices through their high school career. Some can help them get better and stronger while others can have devastating results. Whale Talk, written by Chris Crutcher, describes these challenges through the life of T.J. Jones and the results of this swimmer's choices in a high school setting. Crutcher provides a fair and lifelike character in T.J. that every high school athlete can identify with as he struggles to make friends and keep them living in an area where his race is different from many as his peers. Racism adds more challenge to making the character feel like part of a team and the author lets you see the difficulty that this puts on the teenager's life. Whale Talk presents this issue along with several other issues that male athletes like T.J. face in life.
    Another major issue facing athletes in high school is steroid use. The athlete sees the positive side of how the drugs can help. They can make you stronger and build lots of muscle in a short amount of time. Many athletes believe they need this edge to compete against other athletes that might be stronger. Since most athletes would like to make it to the top of their sport they feel that steroids will get them a college scholarship. The downside is that they are gambling with their health. Some can even die by using the drugs.
    Chris Crutcher presents to the reader in a direct way through the character T.J. these types of struggles and the thinking that he has when making decisions, Whale Talk is a "Must Read" for any high school student-athlete. Swimmers will definitely see many of the same challenges in their lives.

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

    Good Read

    In Whale TJ starts off his senior year not planning on doing any sports. Little did he know he would be the captain off the swim team and get a lot of kids try to o out for swimming that have never done a sport before. Tj had done many sports before but does not like team sports. He does not like being yelled at by people who are paid to yell at him. His teacher tells him that he has to join the swim team or he will become the wrestling coach. Tj joins the swim team. The swim team has a very slow start but the find a place to practice and start training more and more. The pool they practice at isn't even a real pool but they still train hard so they make the state meet. The pool they practice
    The book over all was a good book. If you need help with motivation then you should read this book. Whale talk has a lot of sad parts though, starting at TJs parents. Tjs parents died in a car crash. Tj's family is very broken up which is very sad. While reading the book I felt bad for TJ because he got made fun of because of his skin color. He was very good at sports but people still made fun of him. People made fun of which made him very mad. Tj didn't know how to handle it.
    Tj got rid of his angry by working out. Which is why he is so good at sports .The book is very good I liked it a lot because I felt a better person after I read it. I hope that you to will also read the book because it is overall very positive.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

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    Damn those letter jackets...

    When I first began to read Whale Talk, I thought I was in for another one of those insanely boring narratives with some kid who thinks he can change the world in the blink of an eye. What I didn't know was that the characters in this book, aren't simply one-sided. They each have their own individual personality quirks, their own problems, and their own dreams. And all of these things we can relate to.

    The story follows T.J. Jones and his quest to build a place (and some respect) for the "rejects" of Cutter High--a school completely obsessed with their sports teams. His solution: starting the Cutter All Night Mermen swim team to obtain what is considered almost sacred at Cutter High--a varsity letter jacket. His recruits include Chris Coughlin, whose father caused him permanent brain damage as a child, and Andy Mott, the guy who everyone makes way for in the halls (while trying to avoid eye contact). Throughout the story, the Cutter Mermen build their own little utopia, where swimming is the foundation from where it all began.

    With witty dialogue, smirk-inducing humor, and a tragedy that will jerk tears from your eyes, Whale Talk is a story that will keep you hooked (and cheering for the Mermen) until the last word is read.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

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    Really Good Book

    Hello world, I am a 16-years-old high school student. In English class we were suppose to read a book of our choice. I chose Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher because my teacher recommended it to me because I like sports a lot. That's the reason I liked this book. This is a book about swimming. I'm not a swimming fan. My teacher told me it was about football, but I still enjoyed this book. I give this book a 4 out of 5.
    The main character of the book is The Tao Jones. Everyone called him T.J. for short. He was adopted when he was young by the people he calls mom and dad, Mr. & Mrs. Jones. He is mixed with black and Japanese. He is a swimmer. He is trying to start a swinning team for his school beacause they really don't have one. T.J. goes arround school searching for people that are comfortable in the water. He comes out with the most unexpected kids. These are the kids that are all unpopular and all have something that makes them different from everyone else. For example, Simon DeLong is really fat and Andy Mott is missing a leg. They are the underdogs in the school that all want to become popular. In the midst of all there problems, they face conflicts with bullies that try to make it hard on them because they're different then everyone else. Through all of they're problems they have a mission to overcome and win.
    This book is telling that discrimination is very wrong and the hardships in life are what truly bring us together. If you like underdog stories, this would be the book for you. It shows how to overcome differences and how to unify. This is a good and easy book to read.

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  • Posted May 12, 2009

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    Whale Talk

    I really enjoyed reading Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. I am one of those people who have difficulty staying focused long enough to really enjoy a book. However, I really liked Chris Crutcher's approach in Whale Talk because he gets right to the point and does not include a lot of useless jibber-jabber.

    When I started reading this book I knew I was in for an exciting story. Whale Talk was so exciting because of how each character has their own unique personality. For example, when T.J. was first introduced in the story I just got the feeling that this kid was someone special. One of the traits that make T.J.'s character so likable is that he is this spectacular athlete but he does not act like a "jock". He is humble and kind to everyone. I also liked how Crutcher described Chris Coughlin as being "not there" and chameleon like. I got a clear snapshot of his personality as it relates to his character. The book was fast paced. In each chapter exciting events were occurring such as when T.J. told Mike Barbour, the mean jock, to lay off of Chris, when the bus ran off of the road in a snow storm and when the swim team members shared stories with each other on the bus.

    Whale Talk is a great story. I love the concept of forming a school team, in a school that prides itself on athletic achievement, made up of the school's outcasts and misfits. I especially love that Crutcher made these kids triumph but did so in a realistic way. There was nothing that I disliked about this book. Overall, this is a great read for any teenagers with its exiting plots, vivid details and interesting characters. On a scale of one to ten, I rate this book an eleven.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    It was really good.

    I've been rereading this since I was in middle school. And still loving it as a college student.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    Whale Talk

    A band of misfits teaming up to earn letter jackets at a sports-oriented high school sounds pretty interesting right? In Whale Talk that is exactly what happens. In this realistic fiction a boy named T. J. is faced with the challenge of creating a swim team out of very little athletic talent. His goal is to present each of the outcasts with a letter jacket at the end of the swim season. Through personal triumph and public criticism the boys band together to make an unusual but strong group of friends. This is an inspiring story of standing up for what is right and dealing with the consequences even though they may not be desirable. The characters are explained well, but there could have been more detail on each of their individual roles in the plot. Chris Crutcher has won two lifetime achievement awards, and each of his six young adult novels has been selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. This book leaves the reader with many thoughts on the effect of ostracizing individuals, and how much of a difference that one person¿s opinions can make.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    Great book!!!

    this was a great book! theres so much explanation in it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2008

    A Fasinating Story About Living Life With No Regrets

    Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher was an unbelievable book because it entertained you while expressing a major social issue in the world. Whale Talk is a story about a high school student named T.J. Jones who gets together a team of misfit students to participate on the high school swim team. His main reason in creating the swim team is to help out his friend Chris who is handicapped. Chris is often teased by T.J.¿s worst enemy Mike Barbour because he wears his dead brother¿s letter jacket, and Mike thinks that the only way you can wear a letter jacket is if you play a sport for the school. In the mean time, T.J. and his family help take care of a little girl named Heidi who was abused by her father because she is a mix of two different races and he doesn¿t accept that. At the end of the story something tragic happens to T.J. that will change his life forever. This was a very exciting story because it moved rapidly and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. The swim meets were one of the most exciting parts of the story because it was hard to predict what was going to happen next, and the author described the swim meets with a lot of detail. Another exciting moment was when T.J. was at his school dance when one of his friends comes in screaming at Mike Barbour because he had just physically hurt her. T.J. could not deal with that, so he went after Mike and thought he had to teach him a lesson by beating him up. It was also hard to tell what was going to happen to Heidi and her father when he kept disobeying his restraining order by constantly calling them. The plot of the story was well organized because every chapter or two is switched from T.J.¿s life outside of school and then it would switch back to what was going on with the swim team. The author has a very remarkable writing style because in every event he would pull you in and then something would happen that you didn¿t expect. Chris Crutcher has very well constructed characters in this story because they show the social issues of racism, stereotyping and child abuse threw their actions and thoughts. This story has a unique message that says you should live life with no regrets. Whale Talk is a book preferably for teenagers of ages thirteen and up because there are some cuss words and violent scenes and can be read by any gender. I would give these book five stars because it was inspirational and gave a meaningful message.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2008

    best book ive read in a while

    once you pick this book up you wont want to put it down. the story has great characters, fantastic plot, and unexpected twists. once i read this book i needed more so i read running loose, sledding hill, deadline... and i love them all. chris crutcher is an amazing author whose not afraid to write about real-topics like the ones you'll read about in all of his books.

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