Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher

I have never read a book by Chris Crutcher, although he's written many books for teens, some of which have won awards of one kind or another. If this book is any indication, I can see why he is popular with teens, but this book in particular was just a little bit over the top. How much trauma can two high school students handle? Let's find out.
Dillon is the main character, who is an incredible athlete, but refuses to participate in any of his high school's sports. His brother was a drug addict who committed suicide about a year before the story takes place. His best friend was his brother's girlfriend, who he has been in love with for years. The story begins as Dillon is becoming closer friends with another athlete, a girl named Jennifer, who is the star player on the school's basketball team. While Dillon is busy dealing with his own issues, he realizes that Jennifer might be struggling as well.
Jennifer's life is even more trauma-filled than Dillon's, what with the sexual abuse that she has suffered all her life. She has been threatened into submission by her step-father, who beats her mother in addition to abusing her. She stays to protect her little sister from his sadistic tendencies, since she can't seem to protect her mother or herself. And as if being abused by her step-father isn't enough, she has had to live with the fact that her own father did the same thing to her when she was five. Enough trauma yet?
This book wasn't really all that terrible, even though it got to be a bit much. The characters make some incredibly frustrating decisions that make you wonder if a real life teenager would ever be that stupid. But it turns out okay (mostly) in the end.

1 comment:

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I actually like Chinese Handcuffs quite a bit-- maybe it's because of my own experiences of being sexually abused and finding it comforting to read books with people who have endured stuff like I have, in them. That's why I love Chris Crutcher's books- teens who are going through the unimagineable find out they are not alone. I was so inspired by Chris' books, I wrote one of my own. It comes out September 1, and it received an excellent review for Booklist. I am hopeful that Courage in Patience will touch others as deeply as Chris' books touch me.

Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Chapter 1 is online!