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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Trigger* by Susan Vaught - young adult book review

Also by Susan Vaught:

Big Fat Manifesto
by Susan Vaught
Grades 9+ 320 pages Bloomsbury USA December 2007 Paperback    

Trigger is a deeply powerful and emotional book about brain-damaged teenager Jersey Hatch. Jersey has just gotten out of the hospital, where he has been recuperating from a gunshot wound to the head. He pulled the trigger himself, and he doesn't remember why.

In fact, his whole sophomore year in high school has been wiped out of his head, and he was in rehab for another year after that. Now he's got a limp and a bad arm. He's scarred all over, and blind in one eye. His brain doesn't work like it used to, either; for one thing, everything in his head comes out his mouth. Random words like "sock," "chicken," or "funeral" - whatever is in his head. Needless to say, this makes people rather uncomfortable. Add that to the fact that so many people are angry for what he did to himself (and to them, he comes to realize). The only people who treat him like a person are his parents (and his mom is definitely freaked out, she just tries sometimes - not to be), his next-door-neighbor Leza, and Mama Rush, Leza's (and his ex-best-friend Todd's) grandmother, who he's known forever.

Jersey's life, mind, and body have been ripped apart, and he's got no one to blame but himself. He tries to shift the blame to his former self, the ghost of J.B. (Jersey Before), as he calls it. But he pulled that trigger, and he's never going to forget it. He has a list, though. He wants to put things back together, but first he's got to find out why he shot himself, if only to make sure it doesn't happen again. It's all in baby steps; he's got to first get through everyday things that now pose him a great problem, like shoelaces or buttons.

This story, told in Jersey's voice, is powerful and captivating - once you get into it. It's not quite as easy to get completely sucked into as one might hope, but once readers are sufficiently pulled into Susan Vaught's story, they won't be able to put this book down. Jersey's voice is unique, confused, bitter, sad, and so many more adjectives that can't really begin to describe it. Susan Vaught is a brilliant author who really manages to get readers inside of Jersey's (damaged) mind in a way that makes them sympathize completely with him, even believing (sometimes) his claims to himself that he wasn't really the one who pulled the trigger and blew apart not only his head and his life, but the lives of everyone who cared about him - it was J.B., who, really, we know, is just Jersey, the same Jersey who is trying to reconnect with his old life, which is rather difficult when he can't remember an entire year of it.

This story is certainly a unique one, and it seems like one Susan Vaught felt rightly needed to be told. Jersey's point of view most certainly adds something that wouldn't be there if an uninvolved narrator or another character told the story. It's a perspective that makes this story what it is: amazing. Not only that, but powerful, moving, and emotional, showing readers how simply pulling the trigger, something that takes seconds at the most, can ruin the lives of so many people for so long. Trigger is a novel that needs to be read.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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