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TRIGGER by Susan Vaught



Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-58234-920-7
Publisher: Bloomsbury

After a botched suicide attempt leaves him with permanent neurological damage, Jersey Hatch attempts to piece his life back together again. Hindering him is his workaholic banker mother, overly sensitive teacher father and unsympathetic teachers, classmates and former friends. His allies include Mama Rush, the African-American mother hen of the neighborhood, and her granddaughter Leza. With his “memory book” beneath his arm, Jersey endures the humiliation of physical and mental impairment, and experiences crushing guilt over his action, which affected the lives of everyone in his world. Written by a neuropsychologist, the story strives for authenticity of voice, yet at times gets bogged down by repetition and Jersey’s random vocalizations. There is also a tendency to essentialize good and evil characters, as Mama Rush and Leza are almost too good to be true, yet Jersey’s former crowd is heinously mean (in one memorable scene, a former teammate urinates on Jersey in the boys’ lavatory at school). Jersey’s ex-best friend Todd’s ambivalence and his mother’s private anguish provide a more nuanced and realistic window into the tale. A worthwhile read. (Fiction. YA)