Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Chris Crutcher
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Paulie Baum does pretty well for himself - he gets good grades, is an all-star swimmer, and has a wonderful girlfriend. In his eighth period class, members can talk about whatever they want in a safe place. Led by their understanding and gifted teacher, Mr. Logsdon, no subject is too taboo and no secret will be blabbed. After a classmate goes missing, things start to unravel: Hannah, Paulie's girlfriend, dumps him without a word of understanding, no one seems to know where the missing classmate could be, and the school's ASB president seems to be hiding things. Eventually the missing classmate returns, but that's not where the mystery ends. Throughout many winding twists and turns, Paulie uncovers dark secrets of his quiet little hometown and the period eight kids have to learn who they can really trust in their safe space.
In classic Chris Crutcher fashion, this book is a tangled mystery that almost gives its readers whiplash from the abundance of twists and new reveals. The story only gets more complicated and messed up as it goes along, and it's an intense, seat-of-your-pants ride from beginning to end. Crutcher does well with creating real characters and identifying what teenagers go through and how they experience the world. While Period 8 is a good story, the plot moves fast and the third-person omniscient perspective does nothing to aid the reader in deducing what is a clue and what is not. This book delivers a lot of excitement and good characterization, but lacks in pacing and realistic plots. The main twist of the story is also very scary and intense, so younger readers would be best giving this one a pass.
*Contains severe language, moderate sexual content, and moderate violence.