The crush of his life, Melissa Lefevre was nominated Queen, and Angus is forced to either show up and risk embarrassment, or stay home and face humiliation. Angus goes to the dance and Melissa not only handles the situation with grace and kindness, but admits that she has her own body image issues and is in treatment for bulimia. Body image and social perception are strong themes in this short, upbeat story where the guy does get the girl. His father, Cecil B. Rivers, was also a champion wrestler.
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Athletic Shorts. New York: Greenwillow Books. School Library Journal Review below. All with male main characters that experience a sport as an important part of their lives, these stories are complete portrayals that show growth or change. Angus Bethune is chagrinned at having the name of a cow, particularly since he is the size of one. Not only that, but he must often defend both of his parents who are gay while also being a star football player in a school community that feels somewhat hostile to him.
Two other stories describe the intense physical training and the discipline of cutting weight in order to make a certain weight class for the wrestling team. One tale is about an abusive father who is finally beaten by his son in a wrestling match. Another is about a high school junior cleverly addressing the humiliation of having to wrestle a champion who is a girl.
Several stories are interesting examinations of racism and bigotry. In one a high school graduate football player is faced with his fears of a homosexual coworker at his summer job. While none of these stories are directly about sports, athleticism is an important defining characteristic for these realistic portrayals.
Chris Crutcher briefly immerses the reader into intense experiences that will satisfy teens and make them want more. Some of the characters from Crutcher novels pop up in these stories, often speaking in a colloquial and realistic first-person voice. As the title suggests, athletics are part of the selections; and Crutcher, as usual, is best at accurately portraying the world of high school teammates and coaches--readers can practically smell the sweat.
In the first story--a monologue by a fat guy who manages to keep his dignity-the author seamlessly blends humor with more serious elements. The short story format keeps the action focused and definitely packs a punch. The final entry, a gritty, no-holds-barred account of the fear surrounding AIDS, is especially effective. Morning, T. School Library Journal, 37 9 ,
Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories