A story of burgeoning friendship and self-discovery, Jerry Spinelli’s Crash is a thoughtful story of schoolyard bully, young John “Crash” Coogan. Nicknamed for crashing into and taking down his cousin at a young age, Crash is full of aggression. Since childhood, he has tormented Quaker-raised Penn Web, who is not only a seemingly meek vegetarian, but also constantly wearing old clothes, and Crash's bullying only increases when Penn becomes a cheerleader. Despite the tormenting he puts Penn through, Penn refuses to retaliate, and Crash grows increasingly envious of the tightly knit Webb family, especially as his own mother works long hours to support the family. Despite a frustrating crush on schoolmate Jane, things improve for Crash when his grandfather, Scooter, comes to stay. However, Scooter suffers a stroke shortly thereafter, and has a slow recovery, which does bring Crash’s mother home, though it now means the family must scrimp and save. Dealing with the tragic trajectory of his life, Crash slowly begins to respect Penn, and ends up taking his side against his friend Mike. Spinelli is adept at writing Crash’s evolution past aggressive school bully, and his maturation is dealt with authentically and effectively, culminating when Crash allows Penn to obtain a coveted spot on the relay team. Crash is the redemption tale of a misunderstood, angry protagonist, and by giving voice to a “bully”, Spinelli crafts a story that gives readers a unique, more understanding perspective.