cover image Period 8

Period 8

Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-191480-5

The coolest teacher at Heller High is “Logs,” as the students call him, who hosts an extended therapy session in his classroom during lunch, the “Period 8” of the title. Even in Crutcher’s normally sure hands, this premise doesn’t work, largely because the action of the story isn’t remotely believable. Basically, a psychopath is roping the school’s prettiest girls (including one nicknamed the Virgin Mary) into a sex ring. Logs and his mentee, 17-year-old distance swimmer Paulie Baum, slowly unravel what’s going on, leading to a high-octane finish that will keep readers furiously flipping the pages to uncover who the good guys really are. But subplots about Paulie’s parents’ marital woes and Paulie’s struggle to finish his senior essay on “adolescent decision-making,” coupled with cartoonish villains and implausible details—when the Virgin Mary goes missing, police recruit the Period 8 crew to help them scour the woods for her body—may stop some readers from reaching the exciting conclusion. Ages 14–up. Agent: Darhansoff & Verrill Literary Agents. (Apr.)