“Crunch Time” by Mariah Fredericks
Mrs. M in our English Department recommended this novel to me, and I just finished it.
“Crunch Time” is the story of Max, Daisy, Leo and Jane, who, though very different and socially isolated from one another, become friends when they decide that no one is showing up to teach their Princeton Review SAT class. They go out for pizza and then have regular dates at Jane’s house where they study.
Told as first-person observations by the four characters, how they react to one another with trust, anger, loyalty and betrayal is very realistic. Jane is the daughter of a movie star, but has no real life or image of her own. Daisy is an athlete who learns from her parents that saving the world and other people matters. Max is the intelligent school newspaper editor who has a crush on Daisy. Leo is the super-smart, super-cute guy who makes a play for Daisy. Yet all these kids have problems, and these come to the surface when it is discovered that someone at their school cheated on the SAT, jeopardizing all of their scores and thus, college admissions.Two of these characters are suspected, and they all start to suspect one another.
There’s true love, guys who are players, trouble with alcohol, a party where reputations are ruined, difficulties with parents, and an inappropriately interested stepfather. All good stuff. But the best thing about “Crunch Time” is the light it sheds on what happens when we judge people by standardized test scores.