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Crush: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Love

Review

Crush: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Love

Eighth-grade student Kevin Spencer is cute and funny --- and a bit full of himself. In his 14 years, he has developed interpersonal skills with the knowledge that “the best way to make other people like you is to show them how great you think they are.”

"CRUSH is a humorous and heartwarming story about the wonderful and mysterious matters of the heart."

In the past, Kevin’s manipulative ways of getting people to like him and do what he wants have been successful to some degree. Now he’s working on romance. Kevin considers himself the “most romantic guy you’ll ever meet,” except that he’s never had a girlfriend. In fact, he has never even gone out on a real date. He’s hoping to change all that by asking Katrina Maria Zabinski to a middle-school dance. Tina, whose laugh “sounds like bells or angels,” is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.

One day, after working up the courage to spring the question on Tina, Kevin walks into the cafeteria and sees her sitting at the lunch table with another guy. To make matters worse, Cash Devine, the new kid at school, has the looks and confidence of a “male-model wannabee.” 

To win Tina's heart, and learn all about romance, Kevin decides to take a scientific approach and create experiments to observe the behaviors of test subjects. By applying the principles of scientific method, he believes he can understand the chemistry between males and females. In Kevin’s mind, to unleash his “inner Casanova,” he has to tap into his “inner umm, Copernicus.”

The budding Casanova's experiments begin with his family. His observation of his parents, with the help of his young neighbor Markie, ends dismally. Frequently married and often divorced Auntie Buzz doesn't have the best track record in the lasting romance department. Kevin turns to his sister Sarah for help, but she turns the tables on him, which is an eye-opening experience. Kevin’s observations of his hockey-playing brother Daniel and some other skating stars yield promising results. Then there are his experiments with health-nut and best friend JonPaul, along with friends Dash and Wheels. His direct attempt at questioning Connie Shaw gets messy, but he learns an important lesson.

While implementing his scientific approach, Kevin reaffirms Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion “that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” He also comes to agree with Francis Bacon that “Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.” In the end, Kevin discovers that the scientific mind is no match for action.

CRUSH is the follow-up to Gary Paulsen’s LIAR, LIAR and FLAT BROKE, and readers of these previous books will recognize Kevin’s friends and family, and will be introduced to a few new characters. Deftly woven into the story line are some scientific terms and principles. Seen through Kevin’s worldview, CRUSH is a humorous and heartwarming story about the wonderful and mysterious matters of the heart.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on July 28, 2012

Crush: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Love
by Gary Paulsen

  • Publication Date: May 14, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 9+
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0385742312
  • ISBN-13: 9780385742313