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.
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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.more
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.Pmore
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.more