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Vaught, Susan. 
New York : Bloomsbury , Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2006.
ISBN 1582349207

(2 booktalks)

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Booktalk #1

My to do list: 
 1.  See Mama Rush and give her all the presents I made her.
 2.  Talk to Todd and find out why he hates me.
 3.  Pass the adaptive driver’s evaluation.
 4.  Make decent grades.
 5.  Take the ACT.
 6.  Get a girlfriend.

My Carter shrink made me make the list. Good old Carter Brain Injury Center, my fourth and last hospital before I go home. Beside the adaptive driver’s evaluation my occupational therapist had written, Ha Ha Ha.  She wasn’t being mean.  She just didn’t think I could handle being on the road with an occupational therapist and a physical therapist taking notes to make sure I had a brain enough to drive. 

On August 2, a Friday, a few weeks after my 17th birthday, a little less than a year after my seventeenth birthday, a little less than a year after I took a bullet in the head, I finally get to go home.

Proud of you honey.  Mom doesn’t say much except Proud of you honey. 

“You’ve got to give her time,” says the shrink.  “She has to have time to heal. She’s distant because she needs to heal. So does your father.”

“You’re like a five-year-old genius.  Your intelligence is all there, but you don’t have the social skills to use it.”

Jersey Hatch is on his way home.  Broken in mind and body, he must learn how to put the pieces back together.  He must relearn all the simple tasks of living, like how to tie his shoelaces, how to sit in a classroom without saying “frog farts”, how to navigate the school hallways with his new helper, and how to avoid the hateful glares of his former best friend. He has to examine his own damaged existence and answer the nagging questions why did he want to end his own life and can he stop himself from trying to end it again.  (Mary M. Silgals, Trident Academy, for South Carolina Young Adult Book Awards, 2008-2009)

Booktalk #2

What triggers an adolescent to want to commit suicide?  In Susan Vaught’s young adult novel, readers meet Jersey Hatch who can’t remember why he tried to shoot his own head off.  Jersey is physically and mentally damaged as a result of his suicide attempt and must attempt to relearn how to tie his shoelaces, how to work algebra problems, and how to repair relationships with his friends and parents.  As Jersey struggles to remember what happened and how to move forward, he only has two people who are really willing to help him and to talk to him honestly, an elderly neighbor, Mama Rush, and her granddaughter, Leza.  Vaught’s novel makes for interesting discussions with adolescents about what drives a teen to commit suicide and what might happen if the attempt fails.  (Rhode Island Teen Book Awards, 2008-09)

SUBJECTS: Brains Wounds and injuries -- Fiction.
                        Brain damage -- Patients -- Rehabilitation -- Fiction.
                        Gunshot wounds -- Fiction.
                        Suicide -- Fiction.

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