Inside Out

Inside Out

4.1 27
by Terry Trueman

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In a busy coffee shop, a robbery goes wrong. Two gunmen hold seven hostages, including teenager Zach Wahhsted. What nobody realizes at first is that Zach is anything but ordinary and his troubled mind is more dangerous than any weapon. Terry Trueman has created a compelling character with the same shocking power and heartbreaking compassion as his Printz Honor

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In a busy coffee shop, a robbery goes wrong. Two gunmen hold seven hostages, including teenager Zach Wahhsted. What nobody realizes at first is that Zach is anything but ordinary and his troubled mind is more dangerous than any weapon. Terry Trueman has created a compelling character with the same shocking power and heartbreaking compassion as his Printz Honor Award debut novel, Stuck in Neutral.

Ages 12+

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While a 16-year-old battling schizophrenia waits in a coffee shop for his mother to arrive with his medication, two boys attempt to rob the cafe and take hostages. PW called this "a vivid story of three desperate teens that recalls Robert Cormier, with its dark, disturbing theme and narrative shifts in rapid-fire succession." Ages 14-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2003: Zach, age 16, is sitting in a coffee shop waiting for his mother to pick him up when two armed teenagers burst in to rob the place. Everyone else is terrified, but Zack doesn't freak out—he's schizophrenic, so he's not even sure the gunmen are real. He can't trust his senses, and the two imaginary "psychokiller enemies" whose voices he hears whispering evil thoughts in his head are what really make him quake. Zach has already attempted suicide, and he needs his medicine—which is rapidly wearing off—to maintain any kind of hold on reality. Compared with what's going on in Zach's mind, as he narrates his tale, the robbers aren't really threatening to him at all. So he has no trouble volunteering to be a hostage when the situation escalates, and in the process learns more about the two young gunmen. Two brothers desperately seeking money to help their impoverished, cancer-ridden mother, they are terrified themselves, and they end up turning to Zach for help when a police standoff develops. Trueman also wrote the acclaimed YA novel Stuck in Neutral, about a teenage boy severely afflicted with cerebral palsy, unable to communicate, who believes that his father wants to kill him to end his perceived suffering. Here again Trueman deals with a terrible illness and life-or-death issues. The tragic twist at the end of Inside Out, when it is revealed that Zach, who behaved so heroically in the coffee shop, has killed himself several months later, is bound to disturb readers (you certainly wouldn't want to use this book with schizophrenics). But this inside look at the mind of a schizophrenic, melodramatic as itsounds, is also a quick and riveting read, and will give readers a memorable if perturbing insight into mental illness. Some profanities. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 20??, HarperCollins, 117p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Sixteen-year-old Zach suffers from schizophrenia. He hears two voices in his head, Dirtbag and Rat, whenever he needs to take his medicine. Those voices tell him to kill himself. If this condition was not enough to live with, Zach now finds himself in the middle of a holdup at the coffee shop after school. The two robbers are around Zach's age, and Zach tries to talk to them through the veil of his disease. Although his doing so tries the patience of the robbers and confuses the police outside, Zach is able in his own way to help work things out for everyone, except possibly for himself. Trueman is a master of point of view, as shown in his award-winning novel Stuck in Neutral (HarperCollins, 2000/VOYA December 2000). His research into the disease really helps make Zach's warped thought patterns believable to the reader. Every reader will have sympathy and new understanding of this devastating illness. The holdup situation makes the plot exciting as well, from the first page onward. The only weakness in this book perhaps is in the number of characters. There are several hostages in the coffee shop. The two robbers have their own story as their characters develop through Zach's eyes, somewhat late in the story. Zach's mother and doctor enter the book through memories or through phone calls into the hostage situation. Readers might not be satisfied with the information given about those two people who are integral to Zach's life. Certainly Trueman is an excellent writer. This book is highly recommended for school and public libraries as both pleasure reading or to start discussions. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; JuniorHigh, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, HarperTempest, 115p,
— Amy Alessio
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-When two teenage brothers attempt to hold up a Spokane coffee shop where Zach, 16, is waiting for his mother to bring his antipsychotic meds, he is among those held hostage. Thus begins this slender, but harrowing novel that depicts the standoff between the desperate pair and the police outside-all narrated by Zach, who is driven by impulsive outbursts, hateful voices in his head, and difficulty with processing reality. Chapters open with a brief passage that illuminates the history of his illness and suicide attempt, and interventions by his mother and psychiatrist. A phone call from the police to the robbers results in freedom for the others, but Zach, now overdue for his medicine, agrees to remain hostage. An odd bonding ensues among the troubled teens, all of whom are portrayed sympathetically. With no ammunition in their guns, the brothers are basically decent boys, scared and worried about their single mother's unemployment and cancer. Tension builds when one of them is wounded by a stray police bullet. They surrender, and Zach is reunited with his mother, his meds, and the simple comfort of a maple bar he had craved. A stark news article three months later imparts word that the unexpected hero of the crisis has committed suicide, the victim of his tragic illness. Trueman uses Zach's narration to challenge readers to feel the confusion and dark struggle of schizophrenia. The effect is disturbing, if somewhat didactic. Both the grim topic and strong language in this edgy novel suggest a mature audience.-Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A hostage in a coffee shop burglary gone wrong, narrator Zach is a schizophrenic describing events and reacting to a frightening situation with a seeming stupidity that ups the ante. Most characters are shadowy, but the two inept burglars slowly reveal themselves as victims in many ways. The events unfold with an edge of danger that provides riveting suspense. Trueman's ability to get inside the head of this unsympathetic character is slightly less successful than in his earlier Stuck in Neutral (2000), which was a Printz Honor book. There is some context from letters at the start of each chapter, but the flatness and lack of emotion that is part of a schizophrenic's outlook is distancing and often makes Zach seem unintelligent. Readers will be unprepared for the ending, but give Trueman credit for attempting to provide some empathy for the "others" of our world who are too easily dismissed and ridiculed-in a plot line that grabs and doesn't let go. (Fiction. 12+)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Terry Trueman grew up in the northern suburbs of Seattle, Washington. He attended the University of Washington, where he received his BA in creative writing. He also has an MS in applied psychology and an MFA in creative writing, both from Eastern Washington University.

Terry is also the author of Stuck in Neutral and its companion novel, Cruise Control; Hurricane; 7 Days at the Hot Corner; No Right Turn; and Inside Out.

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