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The Big Crunch, Pete Hautman


The jacket of this book describes it as “a love story for people not particularly biased towards romance.” The novel follows two teenagers — June, the daughter of a consultant who is always on the move, and has learned to keep herself disconnected in each new place; and Wes, a “semi-cool semi-geek” who lives in the little Minnesota town to which June’s family has recently relocated. On the first few days of school, June goes through the usual motions of trying to find a couple of decent girls and guys to hang out with, and meets Jerry, a nice guy who aspires to be class president and has already started campaigning for the election in the spring. Wes, recently broken up with his girlfriend of a year-and-a-half, spends his time hanging out with the guys and occasionally attempting to tidy his parents’ messy garage. June manages to worm her way into a friendship with three girls, while Wes is recruited by Jerry to be his campaign manager. Eventually June and Wes start talking since their walk home from school partially follows the same roads, and begin to build a friendship, which is only propelled into something more after Wes and Jerry have a fight at school.

The cover art is attractive, if a little misleading, since it is a four-panel of the seasons which looks very much like a graphic novel’s layout. Although the book is easy to read, I found myself feeling disconnected from the main characters. Wes seems a little flat and unengaged with the world around him, although his concern over his parents’ messy garage is one of his more endearing qualities. June is somewhat more dynamic, since much of the novel is slanted towards her perspective. As I neared the end of the book, I kept waiting for something to happen — some sort of clashing tension, dramatic incident — something! Instead, it closes on a quiet, reflective note, with a good dose of reality regarding young love.

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