Original Publication Date: April 28th, 2001
Page Count: 224
Source: Purchased for school
A varsity letter jacket: it's exclusive, nearly unattainable, revered . . . and everything that's screwed up about Cutter High, as far as T. J. Jones is concerned. That's why T. J. is determined to have the Cutter All Night Mermen—the unlikeliest swim team a high school has ever seen—earn letter jackets of their own.I had to read this book for school, but I'm really glad I picked it up. The only reason I actually decided to read the whole thing was because I have to write an essay on it, but it was actually really awesome! I thought I was going to have a hard time with the protagonist, because he's male and I have a hard time reading from the POV of male protags, but that wasn't the case at all!
It won't be easy. For one thing, they don't even have a pool. They will fight for their dignity, they will fight with each other, and sometimes they will just fight. And then they will realize that a single moment can bring lifelong heartache or lifelong friendship. For T. J. and his crew of misfits, the quest may be far more valuable than the reward.
T.J. (The Tao Jones) is actually an awesome character! He's mixed race (African American and Japanese) living in Spokane, WA where people aren't very accepting. He ends up starting a swim team with the most random group of people, all are pretty much outcasts at school, and they end up finding a home with each other. T.J. is an awesome character; he's caring, hilarious, sensitive, and a total badass! I loved reading about him, I definitely developed a book crush :)
Honestly, a lot of really heart wrenching things happen throughout this book. It can get pretty dark, it's definitely some gritty contemporary fiction, but it's also really inspirational. T.J. takes a lot of people under his wing, he's a complete caregiver and his actions had me bawling more than once. There is a lot of pretty intense language so if you're sensitive to that I would say skip this one, but if you're a fan of sports books, gritty contemporary fiction, or books with great male protags this is one for you! Also, this one was on the Banned Book list, so if you're looking for something else to read off of that, this is a good pick.