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Damage
     

Damage

4.2 14
by A. M. Jenkins
 

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As the Pride of the Panthers, football star Austin Reid is a likable guy, good with the ladies. Lately though, he doesn't like his life -- or anything else -- so much. And the worst part is that he can't seem to figure out why.

Overview

As the Pride of the Panthers, football star Austin Reid is a likable guy, good with the ladies. Lately though, he doesn't like his life -- or anything else -- so much. And the worst part is that he can't seem to figure out why.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
A grippingly realistic novel.
Publishers Weekly
Written in the second-person, Jenkins's (Breaking Boxes) engaging novel depicts a high school senior and football star who is afraid to let anyone know he's depressed and suicidal. Austin Reid's small town life, which involved drinking beer in the back of his pickup and dating pretty girls, now makes him want to "slide down to the floor, lay [his] head down on the white tile and just quit feeling, totally." These vulnerabilities contrast sharply with the cruel drills of his militant football coach, successfully demonstrating just how intolerant male culture can be of weakness. Readers will know that the 17-year-old's present outlook has something to do with losing his father to cancer when he was a child, but they might be confused as to when the depression actually began. Still, Jenkins handles the heavy subject matter sensitively with memorable scenes such as the one in which his mother shares a bittersweet memory from his childhood, or when he finally opens up to the best friend and neighbor who's shown his loyalty and concern all along. Readers will be riveted by the second-person narrative voice, which effectively conveys the hero's distance from himself and others, and the pacing will keep even reluctant readers glued to the book. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
Austin and his girlfriend, Heather, have little in common outside of sex and hidden feelings of depression. Both are damaged by the loss of their fathers at an early age-Austin's father to cancer and Heather's to suicide. Now Austin feels as if he only is going through the motions, although on the surface, he appears to have it all as a star athlete with loyal friends and the beautiful Heather. Secretly, he is planning to kill himself. Then Heather tells a secret. She was the one who found her father's body. Unable to have controlled the events surrounding her father's death, she takes charge of her relationships, giving herself sexually but not much further. When Austin shares his suicidal thoughts with her, she cannot handle it and breaks up with him. He will survive, but readers will not be so sure about Heather. Austin's depression is somewhat hard to understand. Apparently, his mother has never spoken of their life before his father's death, and he misses knowing about it. Sadly, the one memory he has proves to be a false one. It is difficult to like either Austin or Heather. He ignores his friends, allowing Heather to mock them without defending them. Until her revelation, Heather's life seems to center on sex and looking good. The story is written in second person from Austin's point of view—"you touch," "you remember." This technique might have worked had there been alternate chapters told from Heather's perspective, but here it is only annoying and distracting. PLB $15.89. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, HarperCollins, 192p, $15.95. Ages 15 to 18. Reviewer: Pam Carlson
Children's Literature
Austin Reid, "Pride of the Parkerville Panthers" football team, has it all going for himself. He is a star wide receiver, boyfriend to the most beautiful girl in town, and he has good friends he can trust, like Dobey and Curtis. Why then does he sometimes have trouble making himself get out of bed? Why does it seem an enormous effort just to breathe? This realistic portrayal of adolescent depression walks us step-by-step, day by grinding day, in the shoes a young man who feels a heaviness that he can't get out from under. Perhaps most striking is the author's all-too-true observation that often depression has no underlying cause, no watershed event that one can point to as its catalyst. Jenkins makes expert use of a rare technique in modern fiction, the second person point of view, to adroitly pull the reader into Austin's mind. The result is an affecting, finely crafted novel. Included is a list of organizations providing further information and help for those suffering from depression. 2001, HarperCollins, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Christopher Moning<%ISBN%>0060290994
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-High school senior Austin Reid is a star of the Parkersville Panthers football team and dates the prettiest girl in the school. Everything would seem to be going great for him; yet, at its core, this novel is about Austin's depression. Jenkins brilliantly reveals it with a subtle, deft touch, dropping small clues to the state of the protagonist's mental health throughout the book. The most striking feature of the novel, however, is that it is told in the second person: "Last year, you scored fifteen touchdowns. After each you were so pumped you almost danced off the ground, raising your arms and yelling with the crowd." This unusual technique succeeds, giving the book energy and immediacy. This bold stylistic choice is helped along by dialogue that perfectly captures present-day teen speech patterns and by a skilled rendering of small-town life and the sometimes-brutal world of high school football. Austin's relationship with his girlfriend, Heather, is also handled with skill and subtlety, although some readers may be startled by the graphic descriptions of their sexual relationship. Appropriately, the book's ending is somewhat ambiguous, with Austin just beginning to understand his fragile mental state. A brave, truthful, stylistically stunning young adult novel.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This highly realistic portrayal of a high school boy nearing suicide draws readers into a personal experience of severe depression. Austin is 17 and a star football player, handsome and popular, yet he must force himself to go through the motions of daily life. He has difficulty getting out of bed and has no appetite, eating in front of his friends only to hide his condition from them. Austin responds only to his best friend Curtis, and to Heather, the femme fatale of the school who claims him as her senior year boyfriend. Heather becomes Austin's lifeline with her ability to excite him sexually. He feels an unrequited bond with her because both lost their fathers in early childhood, but Heather's need is to retain control of their relationship. The loss of a football game due to Austin's mistake and the tension that develops between Heather and Austin push him toward a decision to kill himself. Jenkins uses a powerful first-person point of view that places the reader directly in Austin's mind. Better still, the cast of secondary characters is nearly as richly developed. Although he never makes the reasons for Austin's depression clear, it is perhaps a better story for it. He includes a list of organizations that offer help to those with depression. Seductive, chilling, and ultimately satisfying. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061964565
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/25/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
709,192
File size:
240 KB
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It's all yours. Your hands rise, fingers spread, ready to feel the firm scrape of the football, ready to pull it to you, ready to tuck it safely in.

But the ball bumbles against your fingertips. It lurches away, and that beautiful spiraling pass ends its life in a series of ugly bounces across the field.

Then there's just a football lying untended on the grass, just that -- and your empty hands.

When you open your eyes, the joyless feeling has already crawled onto your chest. The ceiling of your room presses you down into the mattress. The air settles in your lungs so heavy that it's almost too much trouble to breathe.

You kind of remember having some bad dreams, but you can't remember what they were. You just lie there, flat as the faded streak of afternoon sunlight that slants through the western window and impales your bed.

It's almost night. You're supposed to pick up Curtis and Dobie, so the three of you can go out. Your eyes move, skimming the room, trying to grab hold of anything that will break the suction of the bed.

A newspaper clipping tacked to the bulletin board. It's a black-and-white head shot of a guy in a football jersey, and underneath in bold print:

Austin Reid: Pride of the Parkersville Panthers

That picture smiled out of the sports section during last year's state semifinals. Now it smiles out over the bedroom.

It's you.

Shoot, that guy in the picture there wouldn't lie around on a Saturday night. He wouldn't think how it's too much trouble to breathe.

So you roll slowly to sit up. Get to your feet. Lumber down the hall, past your sister Becky's room, into thebathroom. Stop in front of the sink. Raise your head to look into the mirror.

The guy reflected back at you is the same one from the picture. Only he's not smiling. And he hasn't got a jersey on. Not even a shirt. But still, that is him -- dark hair, straight white teeth, a strong jawline, a nose that's not anything special.

You lean forward, looking into his eyes. They're blue.

What do other people see when they look into them -- those eyes in the mirror? Are they flat? Cold?

Or just nothing at all?

You look harder, trying to feel anything for him. You try to get him to smile, to see if that will help.

All you can get is a dull stare.

Your gaze slides down to your own hands. Even now they can almost feel the football bulleting into them. Your hands are big, strong. Like your dad's hands, you remember, even though he died when you were only three. That's what you remember about him; strong hands, lifting you up to sit on the bathroom counter.

You're staring at your hands and the memory runs, like a movie: the hiss of shaving cream escaping into a frothy white pile; the sharp clean scent. The soft light foam hanging off your cheeks like a floppy beard. The connection, you and your dad, both scraping tracks in white lather, you with a toy razor.

You raise your head to stare into the mirror again. Those three-year-old cheeks belonged to you. Not some guy in a picture. You.

You turn the faucet handle all the way to the right. Shoot, there's plenty of people who are abused or neglected, plenty of people who would probably love to have your particular life instead of their own. Your life that's a gift from God.

It'll be an outright sin if you don't snap out of feeling this way.

The water rushes down the drain, running from cold to hot, sounding so alive and urgent that it gives you the traction you need to climb out of this rut.

Okay. So you're going to clean up a little. Then you're going to put on a fresh shirt. Put on that smile, like clicking on a button.

And then you're going to go out.

You've parked your truck in the usual spot, past your country neighborhood with its patchwork of trailers, houses, small farms, and ranch land, out where the old railroad tracks disappear into dirt and tall grass. You and Curtis are sitting on the tailgate, but Dobie slouches long legged in the bed of the pickup, carelessly leaning against the wheel well next to the ice chest.

This is partying, Parkersville style.

Your beer bottle's empty now, but you don't move to throw it away.

“You all right?” Curtis asks, eyeing you as he takes another swig from his longneck. Curtis Hightower is your closest friend, your next-door neighbor, too -- not in the town sense, where neighbors live right in one another's back pockets without ever knowing each other, but in the country sense, where neighbors are like family, yet everybody's got a little elbow room.

“Yeah,” you say. You are all right, and what would you tell him, anyway?

Sometimes I can't face getting out of bed? Sometimes I feel so crushed I can't move? Like Curtis can do anything about it anyway. “I'm fine,” you add.

Dobie pats the ice chest. “Want another?”

“No thanks.”

Dobie looks at you for a moment, confused like a dog, like you didn't speak his particular brand of English. Then he nods. “It won't hurt to lay off for one night,” he says, as if to comfort you. “You drank enough at the lake last week to last you through a dry spell.”

“Hell, Austy's probably still getting over that one.” Curtis swings his legs idly, as relaxed looking as ever, but his dark eyes are sharp on you. He does that sometimes, his words dry and teasing, his eyes searching.

Tonight you think they might be searching for something Curtis feels but can't name. You swing your legs, too, your hands gripping the edge of the tailgate, trying to think of the right words to say. Curtis has a head-on, outspoken way of looking at things, and you don't particularly want him looking at you right now.

Damage. Copyright © by A. Jenkins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

A. M. Jenkins is the award-winning author of Damage, Beating heart: A Ghost Story, and the Printz Honor Book Repossessed, and lives in Benbrook, Texas, with three sons, two cats, and two dogs. Jenkins received the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship for night road.

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Damage 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
MaxwellJameson More than 1 year ago
I would not reccomend this book to anyone. I hated that it was written in second person. It was like you were austin, but i dont want to be austin. It was very boring, everyday was the exact same. He gets up, goes to school, plays football, sees heather, and thats it. I hate this book. Maxwell Jameson
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a teenager named Austin who is the star football player of his school team and he is very depressed. Nobody in the book knows what he is going through because his life seems perfect. Austin has had his eye on this girl, Heather and he never wants to ask her out because he is so intimidated by her. As soon as he ask her out though, she says she wondered what took him so long. When he starts going out with Heather, he stops feeling so depressed because he is focused on her all of the time. When his girlfriend keeps complaining about her problems, Austin finally tells her that he has thought about committing suicide before. Heather breaks up with him because of this, and he goes back to his depressing ways. I think this was a very well written book. Even though it had a depressing story, the author kept me interested the whole book sometimes I did not want to put it down. I didn't like how Austin kept attempting to kill himself with a razor. Also, the scenes with his girlfriend were pretty graphic, and I think the author should have left a few details out. The ending of the book was really the only thing I hated about this book. It was not what I had expected, and not in a good way. I think the story line was great with the main character being the star football player. It makes you wonder if athletes at our school go through the same situation. This book opened my eyes more to watching people's different mood swings. I liked that the characters were high school age, and I could relate to what was going on. This is a great book and I am really glad I read it.
katiees More than 1 year ago
This book is about a teenager named Austin who is the star football player of his school coping with depression. Nobody in the book knows what he is going through because his life seems so perfect. When he gets his girlfriend, Heather, he stops feeling so depressed because he is focusing all of his attention on her. When his girlfriend keeps complaining about her problems, Austin finally tells her that he has thought about killing himself before. Heather breaks up with him, and he goes back to his depressing ways.
I thought this was a very well written book. Even though it had a depressing story, the author kept me interested the whole book. I didn¿t like how Austin kept attempting to kill himself with a razor. Also, the scenes with his girlfriend were pretty graphic, and I think the author should have left a few details out. The ending of the book was really the only thing I hated about this book. It was not what I had expected, and not in a good way.
I think the story line was great with the main character being the star football player. It makes you wonder if athletes at our school go through the same situation. This book opened my eyes more to watching people¿s different mood swings. I liked that the characters were high school age, and I could relate to what was going on. This is a great book and I am really glad I read it.
Ksmjr24 More than 1 year ago
The book Damage by A.M. Jenkins is a great read. It also isn¿t too lengthy and delivers a message in a powerful way. Austin the main character is a star football player on his high school team. He is typically your normal jock. But when he was younger his father passed away. I think it has affected him ever since. Austin also becomes attracted to a girl at his school everyone dreams of being with. The interesting thing is that she also secretly is attracted to Austin. His friendships will also be tested and his temptation to give into his depression. Will Austin succumb to his depression or will he fight to play another day? You will have to read this great book to find out what Austin chooses. I can relate to the character in this book because we share many qualities. It's interesting to see the emotions that stir within. I feel that the author A.M. Jenkins wrote this book just for me. I would recommend this book to all young adults who experience the hardships of being a teen in this day and age. I would also recommend this to anyone who likes an occasional sports novel. This book added twists will entice the average sports critic. In all this is a great novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book DAMAGE by A.M. Jenkins the pride of the panthers, Austin Reid a senior on the football team finally gets the girl he always wanted. Heather Mackenzie is the girl everyone wants. They find out so much about each other. Both of their dads died. Heather's dad committed suicide and she was not depressed but that is more then you can say about Austin. Austin had one memory of his dad. His dad would lift him up on the bathroom counter and teach him how to shave. Heather and Austin have an intimate relationship because that¿s the only way they know how. Austin later finds out that his memory of his dad was really his best friend¿s dad. This makes Austin more depressed. He was having serious thoughts of suicide. After he tells Heather, she sickened and he realizes that¿s not the way out of things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't like reading all that much, yet I couldn't put this book down. Exceptional and incredibly entertaining for various reasons.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that Damage was a great book with a lot of information and topics that happen at every school. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Damage A M Jenkins, 2001, 182 pp., $5.00 A M Jenkins ISBN 0-7569-1890-1 Austin Reid a senior in a small town in the country. He has a perfect life, the star football player, perfect girlfriend, good friends, and good looks what any guy would want in life. The strange thing is, he hates his own life. The only reason he is keeping his life is because of his girlfriend that he has a great connection with. When he was young, his dad had died of cancer soon he finds out that his girlfriends (Heather) dad had died when she was young too. It had made an outstanding connection with each other. Jenkins has put together a great group of characters to create an outstanding book. Many of the problems that a character might have had, you could relate to and get more meaning out of the book. The book brings good meaning to anyone that doesn¿t understand life. Can change many opinions and points. The book Damage is for any teenage boy. Girls could even read this book if they wished, because they could also get a good meaning out of it too. I also recommend this book to anyone that has a negative view on life. -Cali
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book from the libary on monday and stoped reading wit until wednsday and i couldn`t put it down i finished it thursday night.Great Book
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book out because I loved Breaking Boxes (also by A.M. Jenkins). I thought that this book had a great plot, and it didn't turn out exactly as I expected. I especially loved the ending! (P.S. to 'a student in mrs. mcyntyres class' the author is a woman).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Damage by A.M. Jenkins is one of the best books i have ever read. The author depicts his characters very well. This story is about a highschool football player that has depression. The story tells about all of his hardships he has had. The story is set in a small town. The main character brings his girlfriend into his depression, because when she finds out he want to kill himself she dumps him. His best friend also quits his football team. Overall this book was really god reading. This book would be worth any amount of money that you put into into it. This book is good for you no matter what age or what you like to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has nothing more or less than the truth! There are many people who go through rough times as depicted in the book, but it is comforting to know that there are other people like yourselves. This book is both heart-warming and reality stricken. This will go on my top ten book list. 'Damage' is a must reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are not many books that dare to address the issue of depression, but A.M Jenkins was fearless in writing Damage. Austin is caught in between his football life and his love life. His football coach drives the team until they¿re almost dead, and his relationship with his girlfriend Heather, is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. This book really takes a look at how hard and insensitive our society can be to depressed people, and Austin is caught in the middle of it with no one really to talk to. There are many problems in this book besides Austin¿s depression. There are minor problems like Austin ditching his friends for Heather, and Heather having to deal with the suicide of her father about a decade earlier. Plus Austin and Heather¿s relationship is no picnic either. They have many problems which are based on Austin¿s insecurities about himself and his life. Austin¿s problems are only magnified because he¿s caught in a world where expressing your feelings is considered feminine. Austin¿s football coach is a beast. He pushes his players to the threshold of death. This contributes a lot to Austin¿s suicide because this adds to insensitivity Austin experiences every day. Heather¿s problem is closely related to Austin¿s. Just like Austin, Heather¿s dad was very depressed. Austin tried to tell Heather that he knew how her dad felt, but she didn¿t want to hear anything of it, and this adds to Austin¿s depression. The setting of this book only makes Austin¿s depression worse. It¿s a small Texas town where there is not much to do except drink beer and cruise down town. There is hardly is anything in the town that would suggest a positive mood. There aren¿t many sunny days, and it¿s very dusty. It was quite unexpected the amount of explicit content in the book, most of it happening between Austin and Heather. But this can be interpreted as a sort of scapegoat for their problems. It¿s a certain way to relieve their stress and get away from the world. One indicator of Austin¿s depression early on is his lack of motivation to get out of bed. He just lies in his bed all day and has to force himself to get up. His deficiency of enthusiasm to get out of bed is exactly like his life. He just goes through the motions without ever feeling anything. This book was written ideally in the second person. This gives the effect that you are the one who is depressed, and it¿s a lot more powerful. The whole book gives a negative feeling, and towards the end it gets really miserable. I think the author did this on purpose to make the reader feel a little bit of what a depressed person goes through every day. One thing the author did a great job with was the realism of the characters. All three main characters fit the perfect fit for high school students anywhere. It¿s as if A.M. Jenkins modeled them after real students. By having the students so real, the book takes on a life of its own. The book grabs you and you can¿t let go. Your attention is solely on the book and nothing else. A.M. Jenkins clearly knows a lot about the troubles of high school, and the incredible emotional distress of depression because he depicts it perfectly in this book. The way I look at a classic book that deals with a tough illness or situation is how the author states the problem in a way that won¿t take away from it or throw readers off. I say this because the only way we¿ll really learn something from books is if we look into them and see what the author is trying to get across. A.M. Jenkins does a great job of stating the problem of depression while doing it in a way that keeps the reader¿s attention. By doing this, it seems he will put many hours of good reading into some kids¿ hands and maybe even save a life.