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Head Case [NOOK Book]

Overview


ONE MISTAKE.  ONE BAD NIGHT.  ONE TOO MANY DRINKS. Sarah Aronson's Head Case is a powerful and heartbreaking debut novel about a guy who had it all...until he drank that fifth beer and got into the car. Frank Marder is a head, paralyzed from the neck down, and it's his fault.  He was drinking.  He was driving.  Now Frank can't walk, he can't move, he can't feel his skin.  He needs someone to feed him, to wash him, to move his body. But if you ask most of the ...
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Head Case

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Overview


ONE MISTAKE.  ONE BAD NIGHT.  ONE TOO MANY DRINKS. Sarah Aronson's Head Case is a powerful and heartbreaking debut novel about a guy who had it all...until he drank that fifth beer and got into the car. Frank Marder is a head, paralyzed from the neck down, and it's his fault.  He was drinking.  He was driving.  Now Frank can't walk, he can't move, he can't feel his skin.  He needs someone to feed him, to wash him, to move his body. But if you ask most of the people who are posting on www.quadkingonthenet, he hasn't been adequately punished.  Two people are dead because of him.  Frank should go to jail.  Only "Annonymous" disagrees.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Former physical therapist Aronson adroitly tackles grim subject matter in this first novel about guilt, punishment and regret narrated by a newly quadriplegic teen. After drinking five beers at a party and getting behind the wheel, Frank is responsible for the accident that killed his girlfriend as well as an older man and that has left him a "head," unable to move or feel any part of his body below the neck. Now, completely dependent on his sometimes resentful mother, all he can do is think about what he is missing, how the accident could have been prevented and how much the community hates him (he reads the angry, anonymous comments on a dedicated Web site). The author convincingly and wrenchingly depicts Frank's state of mind as well as his daily struggles, ranging from his frustrations with his mother's clumsy attempts to feed him to his fears of falling when his parents lift him to bed. His existence at times seems almost unbearably dismal, but salvation comes in the form of a physical therapist who encourages him to speak at his high school, at which time he is finally able to voice his emotions and opinions and perhaps also do some good. After the grittiness of Frank's struggles, the success of the speech and a subsequent act of unexpected kindness seem quick and convenient, but close an otherwise dark novel with a glimmer of light. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Christina Fairman
This complex debut novel traces eight weeks in the life of Frank Marder, a teen who has been paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident. Readers quickly learn that Frank was the driver, that he was drunk at the time, and that he also killed a fellow student and a pedestrian. His life has mutated into a world where he must be fed, bathed, turned, and treated like a deformed stranger in his own home. Compounding the problem is the public nature of the accident. The media has covered the tragedy in detail, providing fodder for the community to express outrage. A mystery person even sponsors a Web site where people can post comments about the tragedy, most of whom ruthlessly condemn Frank without a hint of compassion. This novel evokes a profound sense of being buried alive. "Once I was a boy who became a man," Frank observes. "Then I was a man who became a head." Aronson, a former physical therapist, clearly uses her personal experiences to explore the helplessness that envelops Frank. He is morose and occasionally crude as he dwells in self-pity. Nevertheless the coarse language and brief sexual references are realistic and entirely appropriate within the larger story. This book would be highly suitable for discussions with male teens about justice and responsibility for one's actions. An appropriate companion title would be Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins, 2001/VOYA June 2001).
VOYA - Emily Petit
The most disappointing aspect of Head Case is the lack of life in the characters, all of whom are irritatingly contrived and difficult to enjoy. Aronson uses curt, blunt prose, and particular words and phrases are repeated many times to describe a single action. The plot never seems to evolve or flow but feels like more of an unrefined idea that bears mush more promise than it lives up to 1Q 3P.
Children's Literature - Kathryn Erskine
In this debut novel, Aronson draws on her experience as a physical therapist to describe what life is like for a teenager who decides to drink and drive. Now a quadriplegic, Frank also has to deal with the guilt of killing his passenger girlfriend and an elderly man crossing the street. The story is harsh, bleak, and depressing, as is fitting for the subject. While the first person narration contains some humor, it is dark and sometimes crude. The daily details of Frank's struggle with simple tasks, mainly his reliance on others, is gut wrenching, as is his overhearing his parents fighting over the cost and hassle of taking care of him. The message about drinking and driving is clear and, sadly, so is Frank's thought that in spite of his tragedy, teens will continue to do so. He does at least try to make a difference by addressing a high school assembly, which includes the mother of his now dead girlfriend. Reviewer: Kathryn Erskine
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up Frank Marder is a small-town high school senior who killed two people and injured his own spinal cord while driving drunk. Paralyzed from the neck down, he considers himself simply a head. Someone has set up a Web site where people in town discuss the accident and what they think of Frank. Most people hate him, feeling that he should be in jail for murder. (A judge said that his paralysis was punishment enough.) Only one person, posting anonymously, seems to be on his side. Over the course of the novel, the teen begins to learn how to deal with his new life and how people now perceive him. Like Frank, the book is dark and often angry. Written in a true-to-life bitter young man's voice, it tackles hard truths about taking chances, being irresponsible, and the possible consequences of driving after drinking. The author writes frankly about the physical issues surrounding paralysis. Frank thinks about sex and his body in coarse, blunt language. He is not a likable character-he did not love his girlfriend and he thinks little of his parents and friends-but his situation will evoke empathy in readers. The plot moves quickly, and in the eight weeks following his release from the hospital, the young man gains some perspective and speaks publicly about his life. There is a twist that readers may spot from a mile away, but the conclusion is satisfying and thought-provoking.-Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT

Kirkus Reviews
"I'm a head," declares 17-year-old Frank Marder, now a quadriplegic after downing five beers and getting behind the wheel. His reckless actions also killed two people, including his girlfriend. A judge thinks justice has been served, but on a public website, the community voices its outrage that Frank "walked away" free-except for one anonymous poster. Frank feels "frozen in time and space" until he's asked to speak at local high schools about preventing spinal-cord injuries. "There are no fairy-tale endings, Frank," his occupational therapist reminds him, yet as the teen faces the world again, his own culpability and the true identity of Anonymous, he finds hope and joy in the long, difficult road ahead of him. Although not as compelling as Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral (2000), Aronson's raw first novel delves into the emotions, mobility, daily functions (e.g., eating, talking on a phone and using a computer) and even the pleasures and sex of quadriplegics. Above all, it asks us to consider how we value individuals with disabilities. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466874336
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 6/24/2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 786,418
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • File size: 222 KB

Meet the Author


Sarah Aronson is a former physical therapist who lives in Hanover, New Hampshire. Head Case is her first book.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for TeensReadToo.com

    Frank Marder lost control. <BR/><BR/>First of his car, then of his body. Now he's stuck -- trapped inside a body that's failed him. He can't move his legs. He can't move his arms. As a "head," it seems all Frank can do is think. <BR/><BR/>Unfortunately, thinking is the last thing a guy who killed two people wants to do. <BR/><BR/>HEAD CASE follows the post-rehab life of a quadriplegic in his first weeks home after a devastating drunk driving accident resulting in the death of his girlfriend and of a man he'd never met. Frank not only has to deal with the fact that he'll never walk or feed himself again, but that the whole town hates him and thinks he should be in jail. <BR/><BR/>Little do they know, he already is. <BR/><BR/>A scary, thought-provoking glimpse at life without control.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    Frank Marder lost control. First of his car, then of his body. Now he's stuck -- trapped inside a body that's failed him. He can't move his legs. He can't move his arms. As a 'head,' it seems all Frank can do is think. Unfortunately, thinking is the last thing a guy who killed two people wants to do. HEAD CASE follows the post-rehab life of a quadriplegic in his first weeks home after a devastating drunk driving accident resulting in the death of his girlfriend and of a man he'd never met. Frank not only has to deal with the fact that he'll never walk or feed himself again, but that the whole town hates him and thinks he should be in jail. Little do they know, he already is. A scary, thought-provoking glimpse at life without control. **Reviewed by: Julie M. Prince

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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