Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Enchanting Review: Angry Management

YA Contemporary
Greenwillow Books
ISBN# 978-0-06-050247
256 pages
Hardcover--Available 6/30/2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Mr. Nak ties three novellas together. Mr. Nak is a counselor who has been hired by Global Community Health to help put a prevention program in place for three school districts. His students will include some who aren’t in the `direst of straits’ but have run into some tough luck or are emotionally fragile. He calls his group Angry Management in remembrance of Hudge, a former student, who called it that and gave in to suicide after his dad killed Hudge’s dog.

When Mr. Nak holds his first meeting with students, he meets Trey Chase, Montana West, Angus Bethune, Matt Miller, and Marcus James. After explaining what the group is about, Mr. Nak lets the group out early.

All of the stories deal with bigotry, prejudices, tolerance and freedom. In story one, 18 year old Sarah Byrnes, who was permanently disfigured by her abusive father, and Angus Bethune, another 18 year-old, with his unique family consisting of two homosexual couples try to find Sarah’s mother. In story two, Montana West, age 17, and Trey Chase, age 17, meet because of an article that Montana West has reluctantly agreed to do about the football team. They both learn that prejudices can be overcome and that some things are worth fighting for. In the third story Matt Miller, age 17, and Marcus James, age 17, cross paths because some bigoted students have hung a pink noose on Marcus’s locker. Marcus is both African American and homosexual. In standing up for Marcus right to be un-harassed at school in a bigoted town, the teens place themselves in danger.

First let me say that this was a page turner and I couldn’t put it down till I found out what happened to each character. It is difficult to do this complex book justice in a short review. The author has created a well written set of novellas that are suspenseful and challenge the reader to look at prejudices both internally and in the community. My favorite story was about Montana West because I like happy endings. That said, I value the other stories in this collection because they are thought provoking and make important comments on social prejudices while drawing the reader in to care deeply about what these teens are going through. I especially appreciated the information on ‘sundown towns’ since it allowed me to take a frank look at the town I live in and find that sadly it fits this profile. I would be proud to place a copy of this book on our local library shelf and give our local teens a chance to look at their world through other teens eyes. This book does contain some explicit language which is appropriate to the characters described.

Chris Crutcher is well known as an author, educator and family therapist. For more information or to contact Chris Crutcher check out his website at

Kathy Johnson
July 2009

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