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Monday, July 17, 2017

A sense of 'connections'

“I want to look at this character from all points of view. I know I don't want to make them all good or all bad or all anything... the story itself often helps create the character.”  Chris Crutcher

Born in Ohio on this date in 1946, Crutcher grew up in a small town in Idaho where he was a multi-sport athlete and avid reader from early childhood.  Influenced by To Kill A Mockingbird and the idea that writing about small town life was a good thing, he went into writing for teens almost from the start of his writing career.   Good choice! 

The American Library Association has named 8 of his 13 young adult novels and 2 short story collections “Best Books for Young Adults.”  Four of his books appeared on Booklist’s “Best 100 Books of the 20th Century,” compiled in 2000 – more than any other single author on the list.  Crutcher received the ALAN Award in 1993, the NCTE SLATE Intellectual Freedom Award in 1998, the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and Writer Magazine’s  “Writers Who Make a Difference” Award in 2004.

Crutcher's debut novel was Running Loose in 1983 about a senior in high school who has it all until life throws him for a few loops. Many of his novels concern teenaged athletes who have personal problems, often swimmers.         His recurring supporting characters include a wise teacher or coach.  One of his most honored is Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, the story of a girl who suffers a severe facial injury from an abusive parent.

“What I hope my writing reflects... is a sense of the connections between all human beings... and a different perspective on the true nature of courage,” he said.  “For me, those are things worth exploring and writing about.”

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