Book Review: Deadline by Chris Crutcher

What if you only had one year to live…and you knew it?

That logline alone caught my attention. But I had the amazing opportunity to hear Chris Crutcher read an excerpt from this book, Deadline, at the Winter SCBWI Conference last January. He hooked me with the opening scene.

The protagonist is unforgettable. I think Ben Wolf will live in my memory for the rest of my life. I feel like I just spent his last year with him. And I sobbed when he died. It was so hard to finish the book through the blur of tears. Because despite the fact that I knew he was going to die of a terminal illness, I fell in love with the character and I wanted him to live.

This is the best YA book I’ve read this year. It deals with some tough stuff–dying young, child abuse, racism, truth, and Jesus (Hey-Soos as Ben calls him).

Ben tries to cram a lifetime of living into his senior year of high school. He does everything he was afraid of doing. Talks to the hottest girl in school. Goes out for football despite his small size and weight of 123 lbs. Baits his teacher into debates about the lies in history. And in his dreams, Hey-Soos comes to help him deal with what is happening to him.

This book made me think. About our expectations of god, our prejudices, our concept of what matters. I took the entire journey with Ben. And even as I write this post, my eyes tear up because he taught me so much and I’m sad to say goodbye to him.

There were many amazing lines in this book, but this was my favorite: “Something you learn on the last day of your life is as important as something you learn on the first day of grade school, because you’re not dying, you’re changing.”

This is a YA novel that belongs up there with The Catcher in The Rye. Destined to be a classic that should be read for generations to come.

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24 Responses to Book Review: Deadline by Chris Crutcher

  1. Cat Forsley says:

    Sounds Amazing Kourtney ………. wow ………
    definitely gonna find that one …………..
    much love honey xx
    Great Book review …………..


    • Catherine, it’s one of those books that makes you think and question things. Hope you enjoy it! I really don’t think my review did it justice–it’s that good. :)

      • Cat Forsley says:

        YEAH ?????
        Your review is pretty awesome ………….
        it kind of reminds me of “into the wild ”
        or “one week ” …………..

        sounds amazing :)
        I like books and stories and film that makes you question Life xx

        • It was one of those books that stirred up so much in me and I struggled to convey it in words without sounding sappy. :) I like books that get inside me and won’t let go. I think I’ll remember this book for years to come.


          • Cat Forsley says:

            No sap There ———– ………., Just a wonderful review ……… from a wonderful bright woman whom knows her stuff :) xoxoxoxo

          • Aw thanks Catherine! You make me blush. :)


            PS–Love your new photo–you manage to look smart, quirky, fun, serious, deep, and stunning all at once!

  2. kford2007 says:

    Wow, fabulous review. I’m adding it to my TBR list right now!

  3. La La says:

    That favorite line gave me goosebumps. I am putting this on my list for when I finally start reading again!

  4. I love books that make us ponder our own lives and beliefs. Based on your review, I hope many YA fans, and heck, others, read this one.

    • It really makes you think about what is important in life without being preachy. It gets into the crevices of your brain and thoughts start firing away. LOL. My poor friend took me out to lunch and had to deal with questions like, what do you think happens when we die? what is the most important thing in your life? :)

  5. crubin says:

    Sounds like some heavy topics for a YA book. Kind of a nice change from vampires and love triangles. But may be a little too sad for me. I’m a weenie that way. :)

    • But really well handled. The protagonist is facing his terminal illness and trying to live a last year that is filled with a lifetime of living. He meets someone who was molested in the past and helps that person come to terms with it. He also meets someone who is haunted by the fact that he was molested and molested a child. It was a beautiful book to read. I totally understand about avoiding super sad books. I can only take them once in a while. But it’s a nice break from the happy endings we often read. :)

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    Wow, what a heavy topic, indeed, for YA. But the lessons to be learned sound amazing. Great review Kourtney!

    • That’s one of the reasons why Chris Crutcher is one of the most banned writers in the U.S. His books tackle tough topics and are written in the language teens use and understand. But it was a brilliant book. :)

  7. Ali Montanez says:

    Wasn’t my favorite book, felt too rushed and too dragged out at the same time. Glad it had real life situations though :)

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