Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: The Big Crunch

Pete Hautman
Scholastic Press
June and Wes' love story does not go the way love stories are supposed to go. When they meet, there's nothing, and it's not until later that they feel a spark. By then June is dating one of Wes' friends and even after realizing they like each other, there's a lot of ambiguity in their relationship and where they want it to go.

This book captured me. June's always-on-the-move family made me feel for her even as it was clear she wasn't great at letting people in and this made her personality hard to really see. In fact, this was - let's just get it out of the way now - a problem with both characters, throughout the book. While a few of the peripheral characters had lively personalities, it was really hard to tell who June and Wes were sometimes. Their emotions were clear and I found it easy to relate to them, but even after reading the book I don't think I could tell you what sort of characters they were as far as hobbies, passions, or personality traits. However, even if their personalities aren't always clear, the story itself, which takes place throughout an entire year, gives a clear glimpse of their lives and the relationships they have to others which, in a strange way, makes the characters clear in a different sort of way.

Strangely though, that didn't end up mattering to me, and I think the reason it didn't was because this book was just so well done. At its core this is a teenage love story and the emotions are sharp and poignant. It's obvious throughout the book that June and Wes have something special between them and this never seems forced. We know the characters' lives apart before we ever know them together, and the fact that neither one is actively looking to fall in love or really has great expectations for whatever does happen lends an air of unexpectedness to the story, even though you can easily guess a few of the things that end up happening. At times June and Wes - especially Wes - are impetuous at times, to the point of stupidity. It feels realistic while at the same time a few of the events of the book seem to illustrate the whole love is blind idea.

And this is why the ending seemed, compared to the rest of the book, a bit lackluster as far as the emotion goes. While emotion played a huge part in the rest of the book, near the end it seemed to dissipate, which no doubt some will enjoy but I didn't quite enjoy or buy it, not for these characters. As a whole, the writing style of the book reminded me quite a bit of Lynne Rae Perkin's middle grade novel, Criss Cross -- I'd recommend it to fans of that book, as well as readers who want a different, more uncertain sort of love story.

1 comment: