Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman

June and Wes do not fall in love at first sight.  They do not think it's destiny they met.  They hardly even noticed each other at first, and then Jen starts dating one of Wes' friends.  June and Wes do finally find each other, but it's right before June learns that she's moving. Again.  And that's a problem, because June has been taught to sever all connections every time she moves.

This was a thoughtful book and one I enjoyed reading.  I certainly appreciated there was no eye contact from across and room and then they knew they were destined to be 2gether 4eva 4L.  June and Wes came together slowly.  They became aware of each other.  They become interested in what the other person is doing.  They talk, a little.  But then June starts dating Jerry, Wes' friend.  And Wes realizes he feels kind of funny about that.

The book is divided into four section: Fall, winter, spring and summer.  The emotion that each sesction expresses is pretty well illustrated on the cover of the book.  This is one of the few times that I feel like the cover of the book was actually made for this particular story, rather than just picking a stock image that sort of fits.  In the fall, June thinks Wes is weird and Wes thinks June looks like a fish.  In winter, for a brief moment, they get to be together.  Then June leaves, and it's spring.  Finally it's summer, and they see each other again.

June was a fascinating character.  Because of her father's job, her family moves constantly.  She often doesn't even finish a school year in one place.  She's become an expert at making friends and finding a group.  Getting herself a boyfriend and then completely disengaging when it's time to move again.  June is not looking for anything or anyone that requires an emotional attachment because she knows she'll be leaving soon.  She started dating Jerry because he was nice enough and acceptable as a boyfriend.  That was pretty much all she felt for him though.  It was actually kind of disturbing the way her parents didn't allow her to contact any of the people she'd met in the many places they'd lived.  "The past is the past," they said, and it was best not to make any attachments.  June has to delete all the numbers from her phone and everything.  Her parents think they are sparing their child, when they are actually royally screwing her up.

When June and Wes finally collide (literally, they smack heads in a convenience store), they only get to be together for a matter of weeks, and really, they have one date.  Then June finds out she's moving again, and tries to distant herself from Wes.  For the first time, it's really difficult.  She's created an attachment and there's nothing she can do about it.

What follows is an incredibly realistic portrayal of a long-distance high school relationship.  They miss each other.  June finds she just can't break it off and move on.  She gets permission to talk to Wes on the phone.  And they do, but time goes on.  They think about each other less, even while they talk every day.  They aren't perfect.  They annoy each other sometimes.  Sometimes they don't really feel like talking to each other.  It wasn't fantasized at all.  June probably would have eventually moved on if she went on not seeing Wes, even though she missed him, but then Wes decides to be crazy and romantic and drives hundreds of miles to see her, which ends with him getting arrested for car theft (it was all a misunderstanding) and both June and Wes get into trouble.

Over the summer, June gets a job that's close to Wes that allows them to see each other every day.  The book ends with June and Wes having a very philosophical discussion about what comes next.  They don't know what's going to happen.  They don't swear to each other that they'll always love each other or that they'll always be together, because they both know that they might not.  It's left very open.  You can believe that they continue their relationship and end up together, or you can believe that they grow up and grow apart.  It doesn't say, and that was really nice.  You're left with a feeling that they'll both be OK though, in the long run, and that was very satisfying.

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