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DAMAGE by A.M. Jenkins


by A.M. Jenkins

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-029099-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

This highly realistic portrayal of a high school boy nearing suicide draws readers into a personal experience of severe depression. Austin is 17 and a star football player, handsome and popular, yet he must force himself to go through the motions of daily life. He has difficulty getting out of bed and has no appetite, eating in front of his friends only to hide his condition from them. Austin responds only to his best friend Curtis, and to Heather, the femme fatale of the school who claims him as her senior year boyfriend. Heather becomes Austin’s lifeline with her ability to excite him sexually. He feels an unrequited bond with her because both lost their fathers in early childhood, but Heather’s need is to retain control of their relationship. The loss of a football game due to Austin’s mistake and the tension that develops between Heather and Austin push him toward a decision to kill himself. Jenkins uses a powerful first-person point of view that places the reader directly in Austin’s mind. Better still, the cast of secondary characters is nearly as richly developed. Although he never makes the reasons for Austin’s depression clear, it is perhaps a better story for it. He includes a list of organizations that offer help to those with depression. Seductive, chilling, and ultimately satisfying. (Fiction. YA)