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Seventeen-year-old Jersey Hatch returns home after a year in a brain-injury treatment center. Having no memory of the event, Jersey has been informed that he shot himself in the head. With no internal points of reference, he is compelled to confirm through those around him that he really pulled the trigger, and more importantly, to discover why. Plagued by numerous physical challenges, and struggling to think sequentially and to avoid inappropriate vocalization, this proves difficult. Worse yet, Jersey has returned to parents broken by his actions and to peers who despise him. Armed with a binder to record his easily scattered thoughts, and with two champions--the magnificently depicted Mama Rush and her granddaughter Leza--Jersey sets out to solve his own mystery. The interior landscape revealed through Jersey's unreliable yet sympathetic narration is dense, repetitious, and fragmented, granting readers entree into a damaged mind. Despite its somber character, the story, both engrossing and excruciating, never descends into heavy-handed messages and has nicely placed touches of humor. An original and meaningful work that provokes thought about action, consequence, redemption, and renewal. --Holly Koelling Copyright 2006 Booklist
School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-Having spent the better part of his last years of high school in a hospital and rehabilitation center, Jersey Hatch recovers from the brain damage inflicted by a gunshot to his head, by his own hand. Through a hazy series of flashbacks, memories, dreams, and scenes from the present-often coded in what will appear to many readers as haphazard gibberish-he reaches inward to uncover the lost pieces of his memory and to figure out why he might have shot himself. There's no doubt as to the ring of truth in both Jersey's character and situation, and Vaught, a neuropsychologist, understands these afflictions. The more lucid parts of her story should hook readers and help them to fully grasp and empathize with the protagonist's truly dire situation. However, Jersey's more abstract patterns of thought and mutterings are perhaps too realistic for less-determined readers, and seem to make better food for a psychological journal than a teen novel.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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The motivation behind a teenager's suicide attempt and its lasting effects on family and friends is the subject of this rather disturbing, well-crafted novel. Seventeen-year-old Jersey Hatch, who narrates, attempted to blow his brains out using his father's gun. Now, back home from rehab and frustrated with his limitations, caused by the gunshot wound, Jersey struggles to remember why he wanted to kill himself. Mama Rush, an elderly neighbor, and her granddaughter Leza try to help him-the only two people in the whole community who seem willing to talk to Jersey honestly. Jersey's random, compulsive narrative (he possesses little ability to sensor his speech) makes this brain-damaged character compelling. Most of the secondary characters are also believable-although some of their angry reactions to him seem extreme, given his incapacitated state. Vaught's tightly focused story never deviates from its exploration as to what would drive a teen to suicide. Readers who ever wondered what could happen if their suicide attempt failed may find this to be a powerful cautionary tale. Ages 12- up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved