This week I read “Deadline” by Chris Crutcher and that experience may have been the most I’ve have gotten into a book for a while. I also worked on a fantasy novel called “The Great
Hunt”, but I don’t think I’ll finish it. Fantasy is not really my thing, but I thought I would try it again, but I still don’t like the taste. No worries, “Deadline” left me with a variety of flavors.
We meet Ben Wolf the summer before his senior year of high school. A promising cross country star, Ben is little in size, but large in wit in a small town in Idaho. At his annual physical required by the high school athletics, the doctor discovers Ben’s blood has been captured by a terminal disease. Ben, being freshly eighteen, makes him swear to keep his confidentially agreement and not tell his family.
The Wolf family sound like a traditional one with two sons and two parents, yet, there are a couple of kinks present. Cody, Ben’s brother, is only eleven months young than Ben, putting them in the same grade in school. Unlike his “little big brother”, Cody is the quarterback and built like it, too. I was honestly expecting a rivalry between these characters, but they get along the whole book. Maybe it’s because they are the only ones who know what it is like to have their mother for a mother. Mrs. Wolf has a mental disorder that is never named, but in book club we agreed it is most likely bipolar disorder which she likes to add alcohol to. She has bouts of insanity and then will be MIA for periods of time. You can kinda see why Ben would be cautious of telling her her son is dying.
Anyway, ben decides if he only has approximately a year to live, he better do something great. First things first, forget running, he’s going out for football. Weighing in at 123 pounds, Ben, who has always been the brains in his brother’s skills, helps the team have a fabulous season. Off the field, he finds a new way to aggravate his history teacher daily, mainly with his obsession with Malcolm X. He also finally cashes the eye of the girl he’s been after for three years now, a monster volleyball star with who keeps her guard up.
We found out later why Dallas doesn’t open up to anyone, why the town drunk chooses to be drunk and how fragile life really is. Ben keeps his readers laughing, so much that you may just forget he is dying. Aside from the uber-confusing cover, “Deadline” has no flaws.