Whale Talk - by Lisa McCann
"probably the best book I’ve read all year"
Whale Talk, written by Chris Crutcher, is a great book that tells the story of T.J. Jones’s teenage life at Cutter High School in Spokane, Washington. T.J. has tremendous athletic ability but refuses to play any sports at his school, despite the demands of many coaches. The coaches accuse him of having no school spirit. He ends up starting a swimming team along with his English teacher, Mr. Simet, as a way for non-athletic students at Cutter High to obtain the school’s prized possession. This prize is the Cutter High School “blue-and-gold leather-and-wool” letter jacket. T.J. does this, not only to help others be able to call themselves Cutter High School athletes, but also to upset the football players who walk around in their letter jackets like they own the school.
The other side of the story focuses on T.J.’s life outside of school. As an Afican-American, Japanese, and Caucasian boy, he is made fun of throughout his childhood, but learns to cope well with it. T.J. helps Heidi Marshall, a mixed African-American and Caucasian girl, deal with the racism she encounters from her stepfather as well. At one point she tries to scrape off her skin to become white like her father, not knowing that it will come back sooner or later. Heidi is the stepdaughter of Rich Marshall, a former standout football player at Cutter High School. Rich and T.J. do not get along at all throughout the story.
I really liked Whale Talk and felt that since the book focuses on high school life, I can relate a little to what is going on in the story. Whale Talk also appeals to the reader’s emotions as T.J. takes many different types of people and brings them together as a team. As the story progresses, the swimmers become closely-knit and more like a family to one another. They are able to tell each other personal information that they would never tell anyone else. T.J. is also able to help Heidi accept herself for who she is and not try to become something that she is not. I would recommend Whale Talk to anyone who asked me about it or if they were just looking for a good book to read. It is probably the best book that I have read all year.