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Chris Crutcher was born on July 17, 1946 in Dayton, Ohio. His father was an Air Force pilot and his mother was a homemaker. Chris grew up in Cascade, Idaho. As a child there was not much for kids to do in Idaho, a tiny logging community north of Boise, so many children turned to sports. Chris got his education from Eastern Washington State College in 1968. His hobbies were running , basketball, swimming, biking, and competing in triathlon. Chris has an older brother who was valedictorian of his class. Chris had a lot of pressure , so his goal was to be a perfect C student. He explained, "If I could have done it exactly right I would never have gotten any other grade than a C, but I would screw up and get a D and then I'd need a B to counter balance" (Collier 86). Chris loved sports. He didn't become very good at basketball until after the 12th grade. He was a bench warmer. In track he was somewhere in the middle. Football was his best sport, only because it required less athleticism. Chris said, "finding out how far you can push yourself if you have the support of your friends, that's very important to me about sports" (Collier 86). Chris now lives in Spokane, WA. He is a writer, therapist, teacher, and child advocacy worker. He received his teaching certificate in 1970. He taught at Kennewick Dropout, Lakeside, and Oakland, CA school from 1973-1976. He was a director from 1976-1980 of a Community Mental Health Center in Spokane, WA, a child protection team specialist from 1980-1982, a child and family mental health professional from 1982-1995, and a full time writer from 1995 and it still writing today. Most of Crutcher's books took place in the Northwest.
Crutcher got along with his parents so well that he dedicated Running Loose to them and
included them as characters. Crutcher said, "they've been a real influence on my life," he told Idaho statesman. "They let me go. It's real important to have been allowed not to carry around your parents garbage. I knew I could take off and go hitch hiking around the country and I wouldn't lose my mom and dad. " My mom gave me a sense of passion, of doing things that weren't necessarily rational, of going with my feelings.
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Some of his books are Running Loose, Stotan , The Crazy Horse Electric Game, Chinses Handcuffs, Ironman, and Deep End Marrow. Running Loose is about a boy who has a perfect life. He is the starter for the football team, has perfect parents, nice friends, and a great girlfriend. Problems start to happen when Louie's football coach tells someone to injure a very good African- American football player on another team. Louie quits in protest, but his teammates and the community will not support him , even when the football coach lies about what happened. Then Louie is killed in a car accident. Louie faces loss and the unfairness. His books are the need for people to take control of their own lives, confront the wrongs done to them , and move on in constructive ways. Crutcher said, " one thing that happens when I'm writing a story is I get immersed in it. By the times I'm two or three chapters into a book, my characters are real people to me. They may do things that surprise me, but I can't remember a time when I hesitated" (Hall). His books are centered around young male high school students that play sports like baseball, basketball, football, swimming, wrestling, and track. These kids are far removed from the "Jock" stereotype. They are faced with problems, moral dilemmas, and tough choices with which they struggle. He uses high school athletics as the proving ground for personal achievements by testing their limits (Hedblad 60). The boys become stronger and more mature individuals. Crutcher comes up with challenging topics like sickness, death, divorce, rape, sexual abuse, disability, discrimination, AIDS, abortion, youth gangs, and prostitution. Most of the teens cope with attitudes and actions of their parents, coaches, teammates, and friends. Crutcher's books stress integrity, dignity, honor, courage, tenacity, survival, and hope. He stresses the joy of competitive sports and between both sexes and romantic relationships in his works. He has created well -realized female characters in supporting roles (Hedblad 60). He included first and third-person narrations. He uses formats like a letter and diary to make his books. Crutcher spends his career in helping troubled teens deal with their situations.
All of Crutcher's book have a theme that teaches people about values. In Stotan he stresses life doesn't forgive you because you're young and ignorant. Life only has to be true to itself. The Crazy Horse Electric Game, Crutcher stresses about having one more last chance and to rebuild your spirit and body and confront the life which you have run from. In Chinese Hancuffs the message is in order to be free of the things that hold you, you must let go. In Ironman the message is not everybody you though were your friends are your friends. People go behind your back and do cruel things. But you still need to go on and push yourself and do what you want in life.
Chris spent twelve years as an educator and twenty years as a licensed therapist and child protection advocate. He has witnessed brutality abandonment, incest, torture, rape, suicide, murder, and much of these topics end up in his books. Chris states, "I don't consciously look for those subjects, but I do write about the things about which I'm passionate for. I work with people who have been savaged for who they are. If they're ever going to make it, they're going to have to learn how to stand up for themselves. That starts with telling the truth as you see it" (Hall). With Chris's work and writing his books he try's to put two and two together. Crutcher says, "but in therapy and in writing, I'm trying in every way I know how to let people know that they are responsible for everything they do. In the term responsibility' the root word is response.' You can't control everything that happens to you, but you can control your responses. Those responses dictate whether you're in control, or whether someone else is." Once we take control, Crutcher says, success is within reach. "When it's all done, you're either whole or you're not because of what you did about it. That's the truth. And all my book reflect that. Kids are asking, who will listen to me? Who will tell me the truth? it's a tall order, but I do my best not to tell a lie. When kids ask real questions, I'll go for the real answers every single time" (Hall). Crutcher knows what being a teenager is all about. When he writes a book he drags the teenage Chris in. He also spends a lot of time with parents and teenagers. When Chris is writing he try's to reach out to kids and get them to look at these books and say, " hey maybe there are more kids out there like me, and I don't have to be alone." Crutcher says, " It never occurred to me one minute to try and reach kids through literature. When I write stories, it's totally selfish. It's about my response to what I write; my personal range of humor to tragedy; my use of every storytelling trick I know. In therapy, I'm listening to my client's rendition of their lives. I m listening to their stories. I may be digging into it, asking where this came from, where that's going; but as a therapist I'm just receiving, exploring, playing around with what is. As a writer I do just the opposite. I ask myself the same questions I would as a client, same things I would have to discover from them; but I determine the outcome. I do take my stories from the confusion or the angst of teenagers, so you could say my stories may be a response to therapy" (Hall).
Chris Crutcher is an significant young adult writer because he really reaches out to the reader and gives them a message. It really makes you think about what's going on in our world. It also helps the person who the story pertains to. It lets them know that " hey maybe there are other people out there who know this too." This book can be very therapeutic. A lot of teachers try to use his books to reach out to students in ways they couldn't have without the books. He tells the story how they are. He doesn't put false information in to make the story good. All of his books have a theme that he wants you to learn from. I believe Chris Crutcher is one of the best authors for young adults.