In Angry Management by Chris Crutcher we are reintroduced to characters we met in previous Crutcher books. And in a fun, almost magical way, these characters now live in current times not held by the time/decade constraints we would expect in a sequel. This literary technique makes the three stories in Angry Management fresh and approachable for teens today, not dependent on any previous knowledge of the characters/settings by the readers.
Who are these old/new characters?
There is Mr. Nak whose Angry Management group is an important "home" for a group of misfit teens. I first met Mr. Nak in the book Ironman. I wish every school had a Mr. Nak---a teacher who really understands adolescents and has the special ability to help those teens get themselves the help they need to better their lives. In this book, Mr. Nak has returned from his stint as a rodeo cowboy and is hired to help troubled kids. His notes provide the transitions between the stories.
The first story has Sarah Brynes (Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes) meet up with Angus Bethune (Athletic Shorts) and they make one more attempt at reconnecting with her mom. In the process these two needy kids find solace in a new friendship.
Montana West (Sledding Hill) once again tackles censorship in the second story. This time she attempts to get an article for the school newspaper approved by the school board. Unfortunately she runs afoul of the censor's pen but learns about herself and loyalty along the way.
In the last story we meet (or I meet) Marcus James, a black, gay student in a very racist town and a Christian guy, Matt Miller (Deadline) who stands up for James and against those students who would undo him.
Chris Crutcher fills these three stories with raw emotion. They are about insecurity, anger, and prejudice. But they are also about love, freedom, and power. About surviving. And hope.---from the book descriptionIn a funny, ironic synchronicity I read Angry Management while I was on jury duty. The halls of the Pierce County building were full of people who probably would have benefited from a Mr. Nak and an angry management group during their teen years, having a place to go to deal with their issues in a safe environment rather than committing crimes against society and ending up in the penal system.
Since most high schools don't have a Mr. Nak, thank goodness there is Chris Crutcher and his books! Mr. Crutcher really gets teens. His books are never preachy. He trusts his readers to read between the lines and to find help within the pages only if help is wanted.
I am delighted to report that there is a loyal fan base for Chris Crutcher at my school. Boys are telling their friends about his books. That is music to a librarian's ears.
And now for the big news... Chris Crutcher has a new book, Period. 8, coming out next year. I am so psyched! Check out the teasers for this book on Chris Crutcher's page: