On the surface, Mariah Fredericks’ CRUNCH TIME might be about 4 kids who band together their own SAT prep group because they don’t want to do the whole formal class thing. What’s funny is how a story like that can delve so deeply into matters of identity, where the worst thing you thought about people turns out to be true and that’s all anyone sees. I guess it comes down to who you are at the end of the day.
Are you the sweet guy who never gets the girl? Or the hot guy who never gets to keep her? Are you the girl with nothing who wishes for the world? Or the one with everything who knows the loneliness it has to offer? Or are you the cheater?
Whoever you think you are on the inside, you have to be somebody on the outside. And if you aren’t sure who you want that to be, you’ve got to pretend. Be somebody. “Or else people will make it up” for you.
The 4 points of view in this novel, all told in first person, are woven together so seamlessly that in the same conversation you end up in heads of all four characters. Their psyches are different and their passions diverse enough that their characters prove themselves both unique and separate. Yet they’re all eerily on the same path to somewhere, wherever it is that teenage path leads us all.
It’s funny how one test, how one stupid number (2110 – 1250 – 1880 – 2400), labels you for life. But it does. It might be the SAT’s, a big game, the decision to bare your soul to that special someone, or a nasty rumor. Whatever it is, it gets to decide your future. And, like Leo says in the book, you don’t get any backsies. It’s not a test you get to take again. You only get one shot. And that’s it.
Then comes the rest of your life.
If this book review was helpful, please vote for it at Amazon.