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DEADLINE by Chris Crutcher

DEADLINE

By Chris Crutcher

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-085089-0
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Star cross-country runner Ben Wolf learns during a physical that he has developed a rare, aggressive, fatal blood disease. Ben is not wholly surprised by this diagnosis because in his heart he has always known that he would not live to grow old. Rather than seek treatment, he swears his doctor to secrecy, hides the truth of his health from his family, friends and coach, and decides to go after the things he’s always wanted but never pursued. Those things include football (not usually the sport of choice for an athlete weighing 123 pounds), statuesque volleyball player Dallas Suzuki and petitioning to have a street in town named after Malcolm X. After football season, Ben succumbs to his illness all too cleanly and almost glamorously, describing none of his symptoms but fatigue. More disappointing than that, however, are Crutcher’s heavy-handed lessons on the ills of racial prejudice and the need for gun control. Many characters, from athletes to incest survivors, are merely variations from the author’s past works; their troubles are treated with care but they are often too good, or bad, to be true. Ben, like the book itself, is likable enough, but ultimately forgettable. (Fiction. YA)