The Big Crunch

Author: Pete Hautman

Type: Fiction, novel

Published: 2011

I read it: April 2013

big crunch

The book is split into the four seasons. I started with Fall on a bright, reflective spring day while sitting at the cemetery. Over the next couple weeks I got through Winter and Spring with appropriate weather to match, then had to set the book aside when the late snows would not let up. Last weekend we finally got a blast of summer, so I finished the Summer section out on the deck. It is a reflective book to match reflective transitions of the year.

The story is a no-frills account of the budding relationship between high-schoolers Wes and June. Wes is established in suburban Minneapolis but June is new to town, and there are distinct, memorable scenes of the two of them driving through falling snow and running into each other at SuperAmerica. The high school interactions seem appropriate and not forced, and even the scenes involving alcohol or mentions of sex are handled nicely. But Hautman is good at this in general, having written most of his books for a teen audience.

I am mostly curious what that audience would think of this book. Having no flashing-lights-and-twisty-turns plot hooks, are young readers willing to engage with it? I cannot decide if the book works better as an experiment in the slow burn or as an actual standalone story, but I appreciate what Hautman has attempted here. It seems honest, and I do hope there are a few teenagers out there who might get something out of identifying with the everyday characters.

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