Chinese Handcuffs

by Chris Crutcher

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 162

In Chinese Handcuffs, high school junior Dillon Hemingway, a fantastic athlete, refuses to participate in any school sports. He believes that too many coaches "have somehow confused athletic commitment with patriotism and human spiritual values, among other things." Dillon instead trains for triathlons because "it's so mental" and "you do it all for yourself." As the story unfolds, Dillon encounters much pain in his own life and in that of his girlfriend Jennifer. He tries to process his pain by trying to understand his brother's decision to kill himself. Dillon becomes deeply involved with Stacy, his ex-brother's girlfriend, and with Jennifer, only to discover that both women are hiding something from him and everyone else. Along the way, Dillon finds himself in conflict with the principal of his school and members of his brother's old motorcycle gang. Dillon's greatest conflict, however, is internal. Unable to "save" his brother, Dillon sets out to save Jennifer from her stepfather who is sexually abusing her.

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