Angry Management by Chris Crutcher

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Summary from Angry Management bookjacket

Every kid in this group wants to fly. Every kid in this group has too much ballast.

Mr. Nak's Angry Management group is a place for misfits. A place for stories. And, man, does this crew have stories.

There's Angus Bethune and Sarah Byrnes, who can hide from everyone but each other. Together, they will embark on a road trip full of haunting endings and glimmering beginnings.

And Montana West, who doesn't step down from a challenge. Not even when the challenge comes from her adoptive dad, who's leading the school board to censor the article she wrote for the school paper.

And straightlaced Matt Miller, who had never been friends with outspoken genius Marcus James. Until one tragic week—a week they'd do anything to change—brings them closer than Matt could have ever imagined.

Chris Crutcher fills these three stories with raw emotion. They are about insecurity, anger, and prejudice. But they are also about love, freedom, and power. About surviving.

And hope.

I am a huge fan of Chris Crutcher. So, when I saw Angry Management (angry is not a typo), at the library last week I scooped it up As the summary states the book centers around three separate stories about six different kids. It brings together characters that Crutcher created separately over a fifteen-year span and extends their stories further. I for one often become so involved with a character that when the book ends I wonder what happens next, and hope that the author will satisfy my curiosity in a sequel. However, in the forward Crutcher admits that he does not like writing sequels, and lets face it sequels are often a disappointment.  Angry Management; however, allowed me to become reconnect with some of those old friends.

Now here comes the gushy part, I loved, loved, loved this book. I loved how Crutcher took characters I met years ago like Sarah Brynes, and continued their stories, but does it in such a way that new reader will not feel a loss of continuity. I loved the emotional content that unlike some of the books I’ve read of late, did not focused on the new “hot” boy in school that everyone either loves or hates, the mean, popular girl who rules the school through intimidation, or an on again, off again, on again romance. I also loved the emotional impact (contentment, surprise, anger, sorrow, horror, and deep sadness) each story had on me as a reader.

When I read other reviews of this book before sitting down to write my own, I was surprised that many of them had negative comments about finding too much of Crutcher’s voice in the stories. I on the other hand love his voice, after all this is what makes a book different from one to the next. If I pick up, oh say a Meg Cabot book, there are certain reasons I like Cabot’s book and a lot of that has to do with her own unique voice. I love that Crutcher has the ability to capture teenager’s thoughts and dialogue in a clear and authentic way, and that he takes issues he is passionate about (child abuse, first amendment and adolescent rights, racism, forgiveness) and gives those issues a voice through his characters. I love how he exposes the flaws that make teenagers teens and allows them to struggle through the reality of growing up, without making everything about the happy-ending. His characters are scarred, fat, abused, tormented, outcasts, and insecure, and folks, those are all too often the realities for many middle and high school teens. Crutcher’s overall message is that despite the wrongs in the world that good exists and can “stomp” out the bad. He clearly illustrates through his characters that there is always hope if you choose it over despair, and that is a message I want to read about and share with young adults.

Rating: 5 Cherries   

5 Delicious Comments:

Angie said...

I have never read many YA books. Usually the storyline does not seem to interest me- so much fantasy! But this book looks interesting to me. Great review!

Margaret Ann Abrahams said...

Bravo for encouraging kids to read - and thanks for introducing me to Chris Crutcher. I'll have to look for his books.
Love your cherry rating system. I'll be back.

The Brain Lair (KB) said...

I've only read one Crutcher book - Deadline. I didn't like it but many students do. I think I'll give this a try based on your review!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I had to stop by after reading about your sixty comments in one day AND your commitment to get children to read.

I used to teach middle school social studies and English and am now writing full-time. Happy to follow!

Anonymous said...

I totally love Crutcher, too. I think my favorite book of his was The Sledding Hill because of the unique point of view and crazy plot twist (won't say what that was in case people haven't read it, but it's very clever). I'll have to check out this book.

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