ACCIDENT by Hila Colman


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A vehicle for many messages, unsubtle, and predictable--yet the reader is drawn in. The setting is a small Connecticut town where 15-year-old Jenny Melino, a nice girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and Harvard-bound Adam DeWitt start falling in love. (Message: Though rich, he's not just out for sex, despite Jenny's tough brother Mike's disparaging ""He's got only one thing in mind."") The accident on Adam's Honda is not his fault, except that he should have made Jenny wear helmet and goggles. (Message: Those are musts.) Adam is unhurt, but Jenny has suffered brain injuries; when she wakes out of her coma, she can't talk, grasp objects, or move. (Message: Don't take the ordinary things of life for granted.) During her hospital stay and ten months in a rehabilitation center, believably rendered reactions set in: shock, why-me rages, despondency. Jenny builds ""a wall"" to shut out the undamaged. But her mother, brother, girlfriend, and especially Adam stick by her, despite rebuffs. So do a social worker, a therapist, and a roommate in a body cast. (The roommate is rich, reinforcing the message already conveyed via Adam, that money can't solve everything.) Meantime Adam learns the central lesson, i.e., accidents can change your life completely, so take control when you can. He puts off Harvard, his parents' choice, and sticks with Jenny and photography, his choices. He gives her a pre-accident photo he took of her on rollerskates. First she resents the seeming cruelty; then she realizes that the ""motion, swiftness, power"" she'd ascribed to the skates are inner qualities she still possesses. She works hard at rehabilitation. At the end she's nearly ready to go home, limping, but with the right outlook: ""She knew she would have to make a lot of adjustments. . . . Life was full of the unexpected and perhaps that was what made it so exciting. She felt full of hope. . . . "" Pat, but not off-base.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow