Dillon is living with the painful memory of his brother's suicide -- and the role he played in it. To keep his mind and body occupied, he trains intensely for the Ironman triathlon. But outside of practice, his life seems to be falling apart.
Then Dillon finds a confidante in Jennifer, a star high school basketball player who's hiding her own set of destructive secrets. Together, they must find the courage to confront their demons -- before it's too late.
Dillon, 16, is a winning triathlete trying to live with the fact of his older brother Preston's suicide, which he witnessed. Preston left behind a girlfriend (and a baby) whom Dillon has always loved; he is also increasingly interested in Jennifer, the top girls' basketball player, a lifelong victim of sexual abuse by her father and later her stepfather. Carved out in straight narratives, flashbacks and letters to Preston recapping events, Crutcher, author of the well-received The Crazy Horse Electric Game , Running Loose and Stotan! , has written a weighty, introspective novel. Because of the book's complex structure, and because the issues are so gritty and realistic, parts of the resolution become melodramatic in contrast. Each characters' actions are undermined by the author's habit of introducing traits or quirks right before exploiting them for dramatic effect. Furthermore, pregnancy twice sets off suicide attempts. Nevertheless, the book is riveting despite those clumsy moments; like the triathlete who takes second or third place, the challenges and the dazzling effort displayed during the event more than compensate for a less-than-perfect finish. Ages 12-up.