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A varsity letter jacket: it's exclusive, nearly unattainable, revered . . . and everything that's screwed up about Cutter High, as far as T. J. Jones is concerned. That's why T. J. is determined to have the Cutter All Night Mermen—the unlikeliest swim team a high school has ever seen—earn letter jackets of their own.

It won't be easy. For one thing, they don't even have a pool. They will fight for their dignity, they will fight with each other, and sometimes they will just fight. And then they will realize that a single moment can bring lifelong heartache or lifelong friendship. For T. J. and his crew of misfits, the quest may be far more valuable than the reward.

Published: HarperCollins on Sep 22, 2009
ISBN: 9780061968532
List price: $8.99
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I'll admit, the only reasons I wanted to read this is because some parents want to ban this from a high school class. After reading this book and seeing some of their comments I can guarantee that not one of them read this book.

Some of their gripes have to do with the profanity used. I'll admit, some of the profanity could have been held back. But most were essential to the telling of the story and more importantly to the telling of the characters.

I think I read this through different eyes because of all of this. I tried to read this as an educator in order to see if I felt if there was any educational value to this. This book touched upon so many important and relevant topics. Bullying, racial tension, and mental and physical abuse to name some of the big ones. This is absolutely a book I would have any high school student read.Pread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
TJ, an adopted multiracial teen, is athletic and smart. He avoids organized sports until he decides to form a swimming team made up of the school misfits.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I would have this book in class to talk about racism in a small community. School is a small community and would be a good place to tackle racism in the classroom. How it affects everyone involved and can cut deeper than anyone suspects at the time.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
There were plenty of places where I had to wipe away a tear after reading sections of this book, particularly in the strength and kindness characters' showed each other after facing cruelty at the hands of other characters and life. The story centers around TJ, a gifted athlete who doesn't buy into the school caste system which places varsity athletes at the center of the universe regardless of the content of their characters. TJ puts together a swim team of those who don't quite fit. Although he does it initially as a way to stick it to the jocks, it turns out that this group forms meaningful bonds. TJ's own family is pretty amazing, his adopted parents open their home to an abused girl just as they did for TJ when he was a toddler. TJ's parents, coaches, and counselor, are pretty amazing role models. Over and over again the adults remind TJ that when people behave badly, even evilly, it points to a cycle of abuse. Crutcher's work as a child and family therapist is a clear influence throughout the book. It's a layered narrative that woven together makes a complex, emotional story.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Tired of prejudice and football jocks, main character puts a swim team together.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I really like Chris Crutcher books. I like that he usually has strong male characters and some sport aspect. The books also have a respect for the reader that sometimes is missing from young adult books. Whale Talk is no exception. It has all the elements. Excellent book. I would recommend it to boys and girls and to anyone who feels like an outsider. And honestly, who doesn't?read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Although Chris Crutcher does not speak in the current idiom of boys, he still speaks to boys in this story about a multicultural kid living in a small town in rural Washington state. T.J., a multicultural kid who's blessed with intelligence and athletic ability is nevertheless a victim of racism. He decides to start a swim team for kids who are misfits in one way or another, after seeing a disabled kid bullied out of wearing his dead brother's varsity letter jacket because the boy is not himself an athlete. T.J.'s main conflict is between him and the small-town, white-supremacist types who rule the sports' world in town. There are both triumphs and tragedies in this story. Strangely, when the tragedy finally occurs, T.J.'s response to it is understated, after he has spent the whole book in barely restrained anger against the bullies.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whale talk was pretty boring up until the third chapter, but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. The book kept you asking why and kept you wondering. It kind of gave you a lot of things at once and made it all come together and understand everything in the end. The way Chris Crutcher describes things makes you feel like you were there living the moment with T.J. and everyone. The letter jacket was used as symbol in Whale Talk; it represented how the school was all about sports and T.J.’s main goal was to get one for all the misfits and to make them fell like they belonged to something. In the beginning they swim team was quiet and everybody was weary of eachother but at the end of the book they were a happy family and were bestfriends. Overall this book was great, definatly worth reading at least once.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Good book dealing with racism, outcasts and swimming.T.J (The Tao) Jones is part black, Japanese and white, which makes him stand out in his suburban Washington town. Naturally athletic, the coaches at his high school constantly try to get T.J. to try out for sports, to no avail. That is, until, T.J.'s favorite English teacher convinces him to start a swim team to save his job.T.J. recruits a motley group of fellow students including one without a leg and one who is very overweight. Their stories intertwine and make for an interesting read.My one complaint about the story was how stereotypical the bullies were. I felt they were one-note and not as fully developed as the other characters. However, it doesn't take away from the story as may be expected.Highly recommended to those who like to fight for the underdog.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Yet another outstanding novel by Chris Crutcher, but yet again it is another of his novels that has been banned in some areas and come under heavy controversy. This time many people have been offended by the author’s use of racial slang. Though the slang is very off-putting, I don’t think it is any reason for it to be banned, if anything the slang is reason for the book to be taught. This is because embodies, oddly enough, the idea of multicultural education. It does this by showing the harmful effects that racism has on people. The slang that many find offensive only magnifies these effects and by no means shows racism in a positive light. Additionally, the story gives the readers the perspective of the racist and shows how harmful it is to them and their families as well. I feel that the critics of the book have not read the book critically enough to see this, because if they had they may have seen the benefits of teaching rather than just focusing on the slang, which was meant to show the ways that racism hurts everyone involved.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
All T.J. Jones wanted was revenge from the jocks who thought they were so superior to everyone else. He wanted to show the jocks, the coach, and the entire school that even an outsider or someone that wasn't in major sports can earn the honor of wearing a letter jacket. However, T.J. could care less about the "pride" a letter jacket gives to a someone in Cutter High. He wants people like Chris Coughlin to have the opportunity to be a part of something. Pretty soon the swim team is born with a bright future and possibilities which include more than just trophies. Friendships are formed that will last longer than the season.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Although it has some graphic language and scenes, this is an excellent read which I highly recommend. Crutcher presents an interesting and enlightening world view. Appropriate for upper high school and beyond...read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
T. J. Jones is black, Japanese, and white; his given name is The Tao (honest!), and he's the sonof a woman who abandoned him when she got heavily into crack and crank. As a child he wasfull of rage, but now as a senior in high school he's pretty much overcome all that. With thehelp of a good therapist and his decent, loving, ex-hippie adoptive parents, he's not only fairlyeven-keeled, he has turned out to be smart and funny. Injustice, however, still fills him withfury. So when big-deal football star Mike Barbour bullies brain-damaged Chris Coughlin forwearing his dead brother's letter jacket, T.J. hatches a scheme for revenge. He assembles aswim team (in a school with no pool) made up of the most outrageous outsiders and misfits hecan find and extracts a conditional promise of those sacred letter jackets from the coach. Afterweeks of dedicated practice at the All Night Fitness pool, the seven mermen get good enoughnot to embarrass themselves in competition. The really important thing, though, turns out to bethe long bus rides to meets, a safe place to share the hurts that have made them who they are.Meanwhile, T.J.'s father, who has taken in a battered little girl to ease his lifelong guilt over hisrole in the accidental death of a baby, tangles with another bully--her stepfather--and hisgrowing murderous rage.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whale Talk explores many issues deeply. A thought-provoking read. Heart-wrenching and empowering at different times.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A story about an adopted, multiracial high school boy named TJ whose mother was addicted to crack and crank. He was fortunate to be adopted by a loving couple. Although he is not a fan of athletic events he decides to get a group of unlikely outcasts to create a swim team. The more others are opposed to the group the stronger his ambition is to win.An inspirational story for any student to see how even students that are handicapped, abused and adopted can have success and even triumph over amazing odds.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've heard great things about this author, but frankly, I could not get into his style of writing.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I think Crutcher is a great author, I often recommend his books to the non-traditional student, the non-athlete, the not real popular type of student.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Mixed-race TJ fights small town prejudice by forming an unlikely swim team at his high school. Tear-jerking. Good!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a good book. TJ's mom left him when he was young, leaving him with foster parents who treat him good. He is a star athlete but doesn't play sports because he doesn't like being told what to do. He helps form a swim team at Cutter High School and helps people that don't really fit in get a letterman jacket.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I read this for Book Club. My rating is actually 3.5, but the stars don't let me do that half star thing. I started this book not liking it for about the first third of the book. The reason is that the protagonist is sooooo angry and really wants revenge against all kinds of people and society in general. I'm not real comfortable with anger and violent thoughts. However, I stuck with it because I knew I had to read the whole thing in order to be able to discuss it. Let's face it, if your name is The Tao you have every write to be angry for that alone. I'm really glad I did read the whole thing, because it's one of the books I think you can talk about for a long time.

After the first third I started to empathize with The Tao and it helped that he was using his anger not in a violent way but in a somewhat productive get-back-at-the-establishment-by-outsmarting-them way. I really loved the themes regarding bullying, people who are different, the outsized relationship of sports in our society, and particularly high school. I liked that the protagonist found a way to stand up for himself and for the other "different" people at his high school. The intelligent twists The Tao uses to get back at the powers that be in high school were brilliantly manipulative.

The father was wonderfully written and I'm so glad he wasn't perfect, though in many ways he was the best Dad possible. Also the English Teacher, Mr. Simet, who sponsored the swim team was a great example of the ways faculty find to help while still staying out of trouble with the administration.

The reason my rating isn't higher than 3.5 is that there were too many times I had to suspend disbelief during the story. I know why the author inserted these incidents or situations, but I thought they could have been better or made a little more realistic. In spite of that, I still recommend the book to anyone who has been bullied or is raising sons who don't fit the high school jock mold and feel left out.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book was as funny as it was devastating. I've never read a book by Chris Crutcher and this was so very poignant and articulate in its message that I will be looking for more by Crutcher to read.

At certain parts, I found T.J. a little arrogant for my liking, but he's a popular kid in high school, so I get it. There also were a lot of threads to follow, but it was handled so well by Crutcher that I didn't get too overly confused (some of the names did run together for me though)

My favorite part of this book: a healthy teenage relationship shown as a background to the story. It would have been easy to make it a focus and bring it into the storyline better - but it would have lessened the quality of the book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
When I first saw the cover of the book I knew right then and there that I wasn’t going to be very interested in this book. I know that they say never judge a book by its cover, but that saying does not included me in it. Every time that I am handed a book or looking at a book I always judge it; you may say because I had already had a set opinion in mind that I was going to let it affect me through out the book, but I didn’t. To me the setting and mood of the whole novel wasn’t very interesting and there wasn’t a lot of conflict in this story either and I like alot of conflict in my stories to be really interested in it. Yes, their may have been problem within the story, but to me some of those problems could have been solved a long time ago. Overall the novel wasn’t all so bad so don’t let my opinion effect your decision on reading this novel; remember everyone has a different opinion in every type of situation.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
TJ, multiracial and adopted, is a great athlete, but resists joining any team sports until his school forms a swim team. This swim team is composed of outcasts, etc who have big problems of their own.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"Whale Talk" is such a great book, every page you turn has you at the edge of your seat! "Whale Talk" is about the outcasts in Cutter High School. None of them seem to fit in with the Cutter High School athletic standards. With the help of Tj they become the swim team of Cutter High and earn a letter.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whale Talk, a story about a boy T.J. Jones and his latest conflicts in high school in Northern Idaho, is a compelling story that will make a grown man cry. Every high school has its outcasts, but imagine if those outcasts were now your varsity swim team. Helped by T.J., a wise cracking, athletic, and smart individual, he is what keeps the chance alive for any student to earn their varsity lettermen jacket. But of course there is always someone who stands in the way. What comes with outcasts, comes with the jocks. The angry athletic establishment is the only thing standing in the way of Cutter High School’s swim team. Nevertheless this onward battle will determine whether the swim team earns their varsity lettermen jackets. Along with that, on the side, T.J. goes through some heart wrenching conflicts within his family structure that will change Mr. Jones forever.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
When TJ's teacher askes him to join a newly forming swim team, TJ's pretty sure it's not for him. Although a natural athlete, TJ's avoided organized sports for good reasons. But when he sees one of the high school jocks bullying a special needs student, he devises gets an idea. Crutcher writes realistic fiction, which is not my genre of first choice, but his characters & plots really grab you.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
TJ likes to go against the grain. So when the school jocks start saying who can and can't wear a letter jacket, TJ decides to join the fledgling swim team to prove them wrong. The team is full of school misfits but with the help of a passionate coach and tons of gumption they manage to make it. While this is going on TJ is also fighting a battle against the town racist who needs to be taught a lesson. The ending to this one is sad so beware, I cried a lot.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
There is something about Chris Crutcher's protaganists that make them seem a little bit older, a little more self-aware than their age. Where many YA novels deal with awkward, insecure characters finding self-confidence, Crutcher's confident characters are a bit of a relief. Many readers would like to see a more confident version of themselves who overcomes life's adversity with a strength and humor. Here, T.J. is a very confident character with the awareness to bring together the awkward and be like a kind, knowing, older brother. T.J makes a strange, anachronistc reference, "you know that Li'l Abner character with a cloud over his head all the time?" Well, no, I don't, and neither would anyone born after 1970 or so.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher isn't a book that captures your immediate attention. It honestly took me a while to get into it, but once I did I couldn't put it down. The character's stories in the book are so realistic and pragmatic that you'll always relate. From The Tao Jones, an adopted black teenager, to Rich Marshall, an abhorrent white man, the characters will enthrall every reader.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

I'll admit, the only reasons I wanted to read this is because some parents want to ban this from a high school class. After reading this book and seeing some of their comments I can guarantee that not one of them read this book.

Some of their gripes have to do with the profanity used. I'll admit, some of the profanity could have been held back. But most were essential to the telling of the story and more importantly to the telling of the characters.

I think I read this through different eyes because of all of this. I tried to read this as an educator in order to see if I felt if there was any educational value to this. This book touched upon so many important and relevant topics. Bullying, racial tension, and mental and physical abuse to name some of the big ones. This is absolutely a book I would have any high school student read.P
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
TJ, an adopted multiracial teen, is athletic and smart. He avoids organized sports until he decides to form a swimming team made up of the school misfits.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I would have this book in class to talk about racism in a small community. School is a small community and would be a good place to tackle racism in the classroom. How it affects everyone involved and can cut deeper than anyone suspects at the time.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
There were plenty of places where I had to wipe away a tear after reading sections of this book, particularly in the strength and kindness characters' showed each other after facing cruelty at the hands of other characters and life. The story centers around TJ, a gifted athlete who doesn't buy into the school caste system which places varsity athletes at the center of the universe regardless of the content of their characters. TJ puts together a swim team of those who don't quite fit. Although he does it initially as a way to stick it to the jocks, it turns out that this group forms meaningful bonds. TJ's own family is pretty amazing, his adopted parents open their home to an abused girl just as they did for TJ when he was a toddler. TJ's parents, coaches, and counselor, are pretty amazing role models. Over and over again the adults remind TJ that when people behave badly, even evilly, it points to a cycle of abuse. Crutcher's work as a child and family therapist is a clear influence throughout the book. It's a layered narrative that woven together makes a complex, emotional story.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Tired of prejudice and football jocks, main character puts a swim team together.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I really like Chris Crutcher books. I like that he usually has strong male characters and some sport aspect. The books also have a respect for the reader that sometimes is missing from young adult books. Whale Talk is no exception. It has all the elements. Excellent book. I would recommend it to boys and girls and to anyone who feels like an outsider. And honestly, who doesn't?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Although Chris Crutcher does not speak in the current idiom of boys, he still speaks to boys in this story about a multicultural kid living in a small town in rural Washington state. T.J., a multicultural kid who's blessed with intelligence and athletic ability is nevertheless a victim of racism. He decides to start a swim team for kids who are misfits in one way or another, after seeing a disabled kid bullied out of wearing his dead brother's varsity letter jacket because the boy is not himself an athlete. T.J.'s main conflict is between him and the small-town, white-supremacist types who rule the sports' world in town. There are both triumphs and tragedies in this story. Strangely, when the tragedy finally occurs, T.J.'s response to it is understated, after he has spent the whole book in barely restrained anger against the bullies.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whale talk was pretty boring up until the third chapter, but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. The book kept you asking why and kept you wondering. It kind of gave you a lot of things at once and made it all come together and understand everything in the end. The way Chris Crutcher describes things makes you feel like you were there living the moment with T.J. and everyone. The letter jacket was used as symbol in Whale Talk; it represented how the school was all about sports and T.J.’s main goal was to get one for all the misfits and to make them fell like they belonged to something. In the beginning they swim team was quiet and everybody was weary of eachother but at the end of the book they were a happy family and were bestfriends. Overall this book was great, definatly worth reading at least once.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Good book dealing with racism, outcasts and swimming.T.J (The Tao) Jones is part black, Japanese and white, which makes him stand out in his suburban Washington town. Naturally athletic, the coaches at his high school constantly try to get T.J. to try out for sports, to no avail. That is, until, T.J.'s favorite English teacher convinces him to start a swim team to save his job.T.J. recruits a motley group of fellow students including one without a leg and one who is very overweight. Their stories intertwine and make for an interesting read.My one complaint about the story was how stereotypical the bullies were. I felt they were one-note and not as fully developed as the other characters. However, it doesn't take away from the story as may be expected.Highly recommended to those who like to fight for the underdog.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Yet another outstanding novel by Chris Crutcher, but yet again it is another of his novels that has been banned in some areas and come under heavy controversy. This time many people have been offended by the author’s use of racial slang. Though the slang is very off-putting, I don’t think it is any reason for it to be banned, if anything the slang is reason for the book to be taught. This is because embodies, oddly enough, the idea of multicultural education. It does this by showing the harmful effects that racism has on people. The slang that many find offensive only magnifies these effects and by no means shows racism in a positive light. Additionally, the story gives the readers the perspective of the racist and shows how harmful it is to them and their families as well. I feel that the critics of the book have not read the book critically enough to see this, because if they had they may have seen the benefits of teaching rather than just focusing on the slang, which was meant to show the ways that racism hurts everyone involved.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
All T.J. Jones wanted was revenge from the jocks who thought they were so superior to everyone else. He wanted to show the jocks, the coach, and the entire school that even an outsider or someone that wasn't in major sports can earn the honor of wearing a letter jacket. However, T.J. could care less about the "pride" a letter jacket gives to a someone in Cutter High. He wants people like Chris Coughlin to have the opportunity to be a part of something. Pretty soon the swim team is born with a bright future and possibilities which include more than just trophies. Friendships are formed that will last longer than the season.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Although it has some graphic language and scenes, this is an excellent read which I highly recommend. Crutcher presents an interesting and enlightening world view. Appropriate for upper high school and beyond...
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
T. J. Jones is black, Japanese, and white; his given name is The Tao (honest!), and he's the sonof a woman who abandoned him when she got heavily into crack and crank. As a child he wasfull of rage, but now as a senior in high school he's pretty much overcome all that. With thehelp of a good therapist and his decent, loving, ex-hippie adoptive parents, he's not only fairlyeven-keeled, he has turned out to be smart and funny. Injustice, however, still fills him withfury. So when big-deal football star Mike Barbour bullies brain-damaged Chris Coughlin forwearing his dead brother's letter jacket, T.J. hatches a scheme for revenge. He assembles aswim team (in a school with no pool) made up of the most outrageous outsiders and misfits hecan find and extracts a conditional promise of those sacred letter jackets from the coach. Afterweeks of dedicated practice at the All Night Fitness pool, the seven mermen get good enoughnot to embarrass themselves in competition. The really important thing, though, turns out to bethe long bus rides to meets, a safe place to share the hurts that have made them who they are.Meanwhile, T.J.'s father, who has taken in a battered little girl to ease his lifelong guilt over hisrole in the accidental death of a baby, tangles with another bully--her stepfather--and hisgrowing murderous rage.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whale Talk explores many issues deeply. A thought-provoking read. Heart-wrenching and empowering at different times.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A story about an adopted, multiracial high school boy named TJ whose mother was addicted to crack and crank. He was fortunate to be adopted by a loving couple. Although he is not a fan of athletic events he decides to get a group of unlikely outcasts to create a swim team. The more others are opposed to the group the stronger his ambition is to win.An inspirational story for any student to see how even students that are handicapped, abused and adopted can have success and even triumph over amazing odds.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've heard great things about this author, but frankly, I could not get into his style of writing.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I think Crutcher is a great author, I often recommend his books to the non-traditional student, the non-athlete, the not real popular type of student.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Mixed-race TJ fights small town prejudice by forming an unlikely swim team at his high school. Tear-jerking. Good!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a good book. TJ's mom left him when he was young, leaving him with foster parents who treat him good. He is a star athlete but doesn't play sports because he doesn't like being told what to do. He helps form a swim team at Cutter High School and helps people that don't really fit in get a letterman jacket.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I read this for Book Club. My rating is actually 3.5, but the stars don't let me do that half star thing. I started this book not liking it for about the first third of the book. The reason is that the protagonist is sooooo angry and really wants revenge against all kinds of people and society in general. I'm not real comfortable with anger and violent thoughts. However, I stuck with it because I knew I had to read the whole thing in order to be able to discuss it. Let's face it, if your name is The Tao you have every write to be angry for that alone. I'm really glad I did read the whole thing, because it's one of the books I think you can talk about for a long time.

After the first third I started to empathize with The Tao and it helped that he was using his anger not in a violent way but in a somewhat productive get-back-at-the-establishment-by-outsmarting-them way. I really loved the themes regarding bullying, people who are different, the outsized relationship of sports in our society, and particularly high school. I liked that the protagonist found a way to stand up for himself and for the other "different" people at his high school. The intelligent twists The Tao uses to get back at the powers that be in high school were brilliantly manipulative.

The father was wonderfully written and I'm so glad he wasn't perfect, though in many ways he was the best Dad possible. Also the English Teacher, Mr. Simet, who sponsored the swim team was a great example of the ways faculty find to help while still staying out of trouble with the administration.

The reason my rating isn't higher than 3.5 is that there were too many times I had to suspend disbelief during the story. I know why the author inserted these incidents or situations, but I thought they could have been better or made a little more realistic. In spite of that, I still recommend the book to anyone who has been bullied or is raising sons who don't fit the high school jock mold and feel left out.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book was as funny as it was devastating. I've never read a book by Chris Crutcher and this was so very poignant and articulate in its message that I will be looking for more by Crutcher to read.

At certain parts, I found T.J. a little arrogant for my liking, but he's a popular kid in high school, so I get it. There also were a lot of threads to follow, but it was handled so well by Crutcher that I didn't get too overly confused (some of the names did run together for me though)

My favorite part of this book: a healthy teenage relationship shown as a background to the story. It would have been easy to make it a focus and bring it into the storyline better - but it would have lessened the quality of the book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
When I first saw the cover of the book I knew right then and there that I wasn’t going to be very interested in this book. I know that they say never judge a book by its cover, but that saying does not included me in it. Every time that I am handed a book or looking at a book I always judge it; you may say because I had already had a set opinion in mind that I was going to let it affect me through out the book, but I didn’t. To me the setting and mood of the whole novel wasn’t very interesting and there wasn’t a lot of conflict in this story either and I like alot of conflict in my stories to be really interested in it. Yes, their may have been problem within the story, but to me some of those problems could have been solved a long time ago. Overall the novel wasn’t all so bad so don’t let my opinion effect your decision on reading this novel; remember everyone has a different opinion in every type of situation.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
TJ, multiracial and adopted, is a great athlete, but resists joining any team sports until his school forms a swim team. This swim team is composed of outcasts, etc who have big problems of their own.
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"Whale Talk" is such a great book, every page you turn has you at the edge of your seat! "Whale Talk" is about the outcasts in Cutter High School. None of them seem to fit in with the Cutter High School athletic standards. With the help of Tj they become the swim team of Cutter High and earn a letter.
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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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Whale Talk, a story about a boy T.J. Jones and his latest conflicts in high school in Northern Idaho, is a compelling story that will make a grown man cry. Every high school has its outcasts, but imagine if those outcasts were now your varsity swim team. Helped by T.J., a wise cracking, athletic, and smart individual, he is what keeps the chance alive for any student to earn their varsity lettermen jacket. But of course there is always someone who stands in the way. What comes with outcasts, comes with the jocks. The angry athletic establishment is the only thing standing in the way of Cutter High School’s swim team. Nevertheless this onward battle will determine whether the swim team earns their varsity lettermen jackets. Along with that, on the side, T.J. goes through some heart wrenching conflicts within his family structure that will change Mr. Jones forever.
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When TJ's teacher askes him to join a newly forming swim team, TJ's pretty sure it's not for him. Although a natural athlete, TJ's avoided organized sports for good reasons. But when he sees one of the high school jocks bullying a special needs student, he devises gets an idea. Crutcher writes realistic fiction, which is not my genre of first choice, but his characters & plots really grab you.
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TJ likes to go against the grain. So when the school jocks start saying who can and can't wear a letter jacket, TJ decides to join the fledgling swim team to prove them wrong. The team is full of school misfits but with the help of a passionate coach and tons of gumption they manage to make it. While this is going on TJ is also fighting a battle against the town racist who needs to be taught a lesson. The ending to this one is sad so beware, I cried a lot.
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There is something about Chris Crutcher's protaganists that make them seem a little bit older, a little more self-aware than their age. Where many YA novels deal with awkward, insecure characters finding self-confidence, Crutcher's confident characters are a bit of a relief. Many readers would like to see a more confident version of themselves who overcomes life's adversity with a strength and humor. Here, T.J. is a very confident character with the awareness to bring together the awkward and be like a kind, knowing, older brother. T.J makes a strange, anachronistc reference, "you know that Li'l Abner character with a cloud over his head all the time?" Well, no, I don't, and neither would anyone born after 1970 or so.
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Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher isn't a book that captures your immediate attention. It honestly took me a while to get into it, but once I did I couldn't put it down. The character's stories in the book are so realistic and pragmatic that you'll always relate. From The Tao Jones, an adopted black teenager, to Rich Marshall, an abhorrent white man, the characters will enthrall every reader.
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