Seventeen-year-old Jersey Hatch cannot remember that day in his bedroom with his father's gun, and no amount of questioning from family, friends, or therapists can change that. Why did he do it? He wishes he could answer that question, but if he cannot even remember the actual act of shooting himself in the head, how can he be expected to remember why he decided to do it in the first place? Only through a painful search for answers can Jersey discover exactly what happened and why.
The fact that he lived is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, there is the simple fact that he is alive--a blessing, technically. But after one shoots himself in the head, life cannot ever return to "normal," whatever that may have been. Not only does he have to relearn everything in his life and deal with the fact that his body will never again work as it did before he pulled the trigger, he has to repair relationships. His dad is constantly hovering over him with that fake smile and a bowl of oatmeal; his mother rarely makes a sound; his best friend, Todd, wants nothing to do with him; and the authorities at school seem to wish he was anywhere but on their campus. Can all of these problems really be fallout from his mistake? He was the one who got shot, after all, so how can so many people be so affected by a single error in his judgment? These are questions for which Jersey knows he must find answers in order to find peace.
Author Susan Vaught is a neuropsychologist who works mainly with young people with head trauma. Through her words, the reader experiences the reality of a failed suicide--the frustration of the individual, the ambivalence of his parents, the fury that erupts within the caretaker household, the curiosity of outsiders, and, ultimately, the decision that can only be made by Jersey: rebuild his life or finish the job?
Reviewed by: Mechele R. Dillard