One YA author whose work I have enjoyed over the years is Chris Crutcher. His books involve teenagers who are dealing with big problems, and there is usually a strong element of athletics interwoven in the plot.
Mike is currently working really hard on his 100-yard breaststroke and is hoping to take it to the state competition in February. He goes to practice with the team but also puts in a fair bit of his own time, whether by lifting weights in the basement or running with his dad. I'm really impressed at how dedicated he is, and I thought he might enjoy reading Crutcher's book STOTAN!, so I tucked a copy in his Christmas stocking.
Here's what Publisher's Weekly said about STOTAN!:
To be a Stotan (a cross between a Stoic and a Spartan) is to push one's physical and emotional capabilities beyond the limit, as four high school swimmers find out when they accept the challenge of a week-long endurance test devised by their coach. Though it is swim team captain Walker Dupree who narrates, this is every bit as much an ensemble novel as it is four individual stories. Each young man pursues a personal goal, but together the team pursues demons outside the group, ranging from an "anonymous" neo-Nazi association distributing offensive newspapers to the abusive father of one of the boys, who drives his son to suicide. But a demon bigger than any individual or group effort comes along when illness strikes one of these Stotan young men. Then the team finds out that you can't always make sense of everything, you can only go after it with your best shot. Crutcher has written an involving, realistic novel; though it deals with tough, unsolvable issues it is often leavened with humor.Fast forward from Christmas to the swim meet last Thursday in Bowling Green . . .
I looked over and saw Mike, wet from his last event, listening to his tunes, and reading his book. I couldn't resist snapping a picture without him noticing:
I sent the picture to Chris Crutcher along with an email explaining how happy I was to be able to share my enjoyment of his writing with my son. I got back a nice note and a request for permission to post the picture on his website. I said sure, so now Mike is featured prominently at the top of the page. You should go over there now and check it out!