WHALE TALK by Chris Crutcher (HarperCollins, 2001)

Popular YA author Crutcher presents T.J. Jones (a.k.a. The Tao), a black Eurasian whose biological mother abandoned him in large part due to the influence of drugs and whose white hippie parents are a treasure. T.J. takes on the school’s outcasts as a cause, and he helps to form a swim team to give them an outlet, a safe place, and a forum to triumph on their own terms. Meanwhile T.J.’s father, plagued by guilt over a tragic accident, faces another bully. Dark, funny, sarcastic, thought-provoking. A rare interracial YA for older teens. Ages 12-up.