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There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway.
A group of misfits brought together by T. J. Jones (the J is redundant) to find their places in a school that has no place for them, the Cutter All Night Mermen struggle to carve out their own turf. T. J. is convinced that a varsity letter jacket--unattainable for most, exclusive, revered, the symbol (as far as T. J. is concerned) of all that is screwed up at Cutter High--will be an effective carving tool. He's right. He's also wrong.
Still, it's always the quest that counts. And the bus on which the Mermen travel to swim meets--piloted by Icko, the permanent resident of All, Night Fitness--soon becomes the cocoon inside which they gradually allow themselves to talk, to fit, to bloom.
Chris Crutcher is in top form with a cast of characters--adults, children, and teenagers--fighting for dignity in a world where tragedy and comedy dance side by side, where a moment's inattention can bring lifelong heartache, and where true acceptance is the only prescription for what ails us.