Even as he wrote his first novel, RUNNING LOOSE, Chris Crutcher's passionate voice was clear and distinct. All teenagers, including those who seem to have it made, eventually face emotional and/or physical challenges. Once faced with tough choices, most kids seek out truth and humor to safely guide them. And most are forever changed by the events that rock their adolescent worlds.
Take 17-year-old Louie Banks, for example. As the protagonist of RUNNING LOOSE, he seems to have it all --- a promising academic career, athletic prowess, good and loyal friends, two part-time jobs, parents who love and respect him, and Becky, a girlfriend with brains, heart and undeniable good looks.
Banks first faces life-changing turmoil when his football coach insists that taking out the opposing team's star player is the best way to secure regional glory. Not only does Banks refuse to help with the high school hit, he refuses to play for such an immoral leader. Almost as soon as the word is out, the all-star goes from hero to zero in the eyes of his football crazed peers. Although Becky stands by her man, Louie Banks thinks he's seen his darkest days as the gridiron controversy rages --- until an even greater tragedy strikes the teenager's fragile world.
RUNNING LOOSE is a tender examination of the trials and tribulations of growing up in an imperfect world. Thanks to Crutcher's dead on devotion to the truth --- in both plotting and characterizations --- and his stellar sense of humor, the story mirrors real teenage life rather than an adult's wishful projection of how it "should" be.
That same devotion to authenticity has landed RUNNING LOOSE on banned books lists more than once because it deals honestly with teenage sexuality, death and moral problem-solving. But it is Crutcher's honesty that has consistently kept him on the top of the YA mountain.
Reviewed by Kelly Milner Halls on October 18, 2011
- Publication Date: February 1, 1986
- Paperback: 190 pages
- Publisher: Laurel Leaf
- ISBN-10: 0440975700
- ISBN-13: 9780440975700