Book Review: Chris Crutcher’s Period 8

Posted June 29, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Chris Crutcher’s Period 8

Period 8

on March 26, 2013 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

A Young Adult novel that asks some hard questions.

My Take

WOW! This was fabulous and terrifying. I love the idea of Period 8 and a teacher like Logs. It should be a requirement in every school, except it wouldn’t work, but the concept is…wow.

No, Period 8 isn’t deep philosophy. It’s more of a peek into high school life and students’ thoughts as Crutcher sets up the background for the suspense of the story, and he does a good job of stretching it out, keeping us in suspense. Nor does he ever provide concluding details which is what brings it down a point for me. Just way too many loose threads and no real conclusion.

I feel so bad for Paulie. His parents are off-again and on-again because his dad can’t keep it in his pants and his mom keeps caving because she loves him. And Paulie’s got his perspective on this. I love that he lays it out there for his dad. And it shocks me that his dad is so childish about this.

Most of it is a slice of real life. It’s the suspense aspect that takes it into a whole ‘nother realm with one student with Jekyll-Hyde reactions and another who’s “caring” for everyone.

What I liked about this story is the introspection on Paulie’s part. He’s a good kid with good morals, trying to do the right thing. Its high school issues that are used to create the emotions, the stresses that turn out to be clues to something so much deeper.

The most terrifying part for me turned out to be Landry’s taunting in that last scene. I was so afraid they’d turn on him.

I did like Logs’ advice at the end: “Don’t listen to me.” It was so not what I wanted to hear, but very real.

The Story

It’s bad judgment, but an honest one, on Paulie’s part. In many ways, however, it will be a salvation for future victims as it provides Paulie with an inside track on one victim.

The Characters

Paul Baum, a.k.a., Paulie Bomb, is an open-water swimmer and a student at Heller High. Roger Baum is his philandering father, a trait that Paulie is terrified he’s inherited. Lilly Baum is his mom.

Classmates in Period 8 include:
Hannah Murphy is Paulie’s girlfriend until he confesses. Justin Chenier is his best friend. Josh “Tak” Takeuchi is on the wrestling team; Marley Waits; Taylor Max; and, Kylie Clinton, a new student, has issues at home.

Mary Wells has an über controlling father and is known throughout the school as the Virgin Mary — no boy dares to get near her! Arney Stack is the ultimate politician and the student body president, albeit as a high school student, saying and promising whatever he has to, manipulating to get what he wants. Bobby Wright is a shy, insecure guy.

Bruce “Logs” Logsdon teaches science and social studies, runs Period 8 at lunchtime, and does open-water swimming with Paulie. It’s his last year teaching before his retirement. Dr. Marj Johannsen is the principal.

Other students include:
Ron Firth, Carrie Morales, and their friends are part of a religious group.

Officer Rankin is the cop to whom all the Mary Wells problems fall. Woody Hansen is one of the businessmen in Arney’s project. Naomi Washburn is a friend of Paulie’s mom’s. Miriam Wells is Mary’s doormat of a mother with no clue what her daughter is thinking; Becca is Mary’s younger sister. Arnold Stack Sr. needs to be shot. Rick Praeger manages the Comfort Inn. Landry Faulk is Justin’s stepdad.

The Cover and Title

The cover is weird. It’s Paulie doing push-ups on a red carpet above a night scene of escape, of Logs attempting to hold on, to survive in the water.

The title is the class, a placeholder for students with nothing scheduled for that hour but lunch, Period 8, when philosophy and the travails of their lives are pondered.


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