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The Big Crunch


The Big Crunch

June starts school with pretty much the same attitude as she starts all her other schools: try and find a small group of friends, potentially date an average-looking guy, and make it easy to withdraw fast when the next move comes. Her father’s job requires him to relocate every six months or so, and she has gotten used to the rhythm of changing schools and not getting too comfortable in any one spot. But something is different about Wellstone High, and June can’t put her finger on it.

Wes starts school with the realization that he has to figure out who he is. He just ended a long-term relationship with Izzy, and after being known as Wes-and-Iz or Iz-and-Wes for so long, he needs something new. He has his established group of friends and classifies himself as a semi-cool semi-geek with perhaps low ambition but big dreams. Wes isn’t necessarily looking to meet a new girl, but he can’t help but listen when his friend Jerry tells him about June. 

Like so many love stories go, June and Wes are kept apart until their worlds collide –-- literally. A chance encounter at the local convenience store finds Wes knocking into June and giving her a black eye. After profuse apologies, he also feels the need to give her a kiss, and they suddenly find themselves connected. They laugh at the silliest things, talk for hours, and feel the bells and whistles surrounding them at all times. Neither can remember a time when he or she has felt so comfortable with another person. The only thing that can ruin it is if June’s father forces them to move --- which is exactly what happens.

Thousands of miles apart from each other, Wes and June struggle to return to normalcy. At first they attempt a clean break, but soon give up and repeatedly use up monthly cell phone minutes within days. June finds a new group of friends, and Wes drifts from different part-time jobs to try and fill his time. When he can no longer stand it, he “borrows” his friend’s car and drives overnight to her house, which only leads to more frustration  --- and ultimately trouble with the police. After such a drastic action, both Wes and June’s parents realize the seriousness of their relationship and attempt to come to a compromise.

June’s father manages to find a temporary summer job close to Wes’s family, and soon June and Wes settle back into their familiar routine. Uncertainty and doubt, though, enter into their relationship. Will they always be able to be together? Are they really perfect for each other? Are they meant to be together? Will there even be a happily-ever-after?

What I appreciate most about THE BIG CRUNCH is that it’s not a typical love story. There is no love at first sight, no gushiness that often accompanies new relationships, and no dramatic moment when the boy and girl realize they are meant to be together forever and ever, the end. Many times people assume that epic romance is found in boxes of chocolates, sappy love poems, and long walks on beaches. Instead, Pete Hautman creates a simple and decidedly romantic love story of two regular teenagers who just happen to find each other. It’s not sappy, but it may just have you longing for your own love story.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on January 1, 2011

The Big Crunch
by Pete Hautman

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0545240751
  • ISBN-13: 9780545240758