Author: Pete Hautman
Release Date: January 1, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Copy Received from Publisher
Overall: 4 Stars
June and Wes do not "meet cute." They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever.
This is not that kind of love story.
Instead, they just hang around in each other's orbits...until eventually they collide. And even after that happens, they're still not sure where it will go. Especially when June starts to pity-date one of Wes's friends, and Wes makes some choices that he immediately regrets.
From National Book Award winner Pete Hautman, this is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance. But it is romantic, in the same way that truth can be romantic and uncertainty can be the biggest certainty of all.
The Big Crunch is one of the most sincere and realistic contemporary reads I've ever read. For sure, this is a romance novel... but it's not in a way that the two characters feel an instantaneous attraction and fall head-over-heels in love at first sight. No, this was an everyday story that I think anyone could relate with... and that's the aspect I thoroughly enjoyed while reading this novel.
On the first day of junior year, Wes surveys his classmates in his language arts class only to briefly pause on the new student who he immediately pegs as Aqua Girl for her eyes. June is well used to the routine of being the 'new girl' at school. She's already been to over 5 schools in the past few years, constantly moving because of her father's job. She doesn't even notice Wes in her first class; she's just tired of having to really connect with anyone when she knows she's just going to move away again soon. So when she meets Jerry Preuss, a friend of Wes, she knows he's a safe option to date and that she won't feel bad saying goodbye when the times comes like it always does. But throughout the course of the year, June and Wes will become irrevocably closer than they ever would have thought on that very first day...
It's the oddest thing, but even though nothing absolutely amazing or exciting occurs, I still found it quite difficult to put this book down. I simply became lost in Wes and June's story! The novel is told in alternating points of view in third person but sometimes it's really random the way it comes about. Sometimes it switched after a chapter... and sometimes it was after only a few paragraphs. Despite this fact, it really wasn't confusing at all to read and simply added to the story, allowing you to see how Wes and June felt about each other and really giving you a feel for their personalities.
Wes and June are truly just your everyday teens that you and I could know in our own lives. They're your average students who attend school, hang out with friends... you know, ordinary stuff. As their feelings for each other grow, you can see just how well these two connect and understand each other, and the drama that forms which stands of chance of stopping them from being together is entirely out of their control. It's how each of them deal with these obstacles that have you holding your breath and crossing your fingers that Wes and June will make to the other side okay together.
I really do feel like this novel is flying completely under everyone's radar... which is just wrong! If you're looking for a not-so-typical romance story with a touch of offbeat humour and quirkiness, then definitely take a closer look at Pete Hautman's The Big Crunch.
Thanks so much to Scholastic Canada for sending me this copy!