4.2 30
by Susan Vaught

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Jersey Hatch can't remember if he rammed the car into his parents' house.
He can't remember why his best friend won't speak to him.
He can't remember the right words to have a real conversation.
And he can't remember why he tried to shoot his own head off.

Broken in both mind and body, Jersey must piece his life back together, step by painful step.


Jersey Hatch can't remember if he rammed the car into his parents' house.
He can't remember why his best friend won't speak to him.
He can't remember the right words to have a real conversation.
And he can't remember why he tried to shoot his own head off.

Broken in both mind and body, Jersey must piece his life back together, step by painful step. He must re-learn to tie his own shoelaces. He must somehow pass Algebra and graduate high school. And he must try to repair old friendships as severed as the connection between his brain and his once-athletic body.

With a compelling and unique literary voice Susan Vaught thrusts readers directly into the bitterly funny head of Jersey Hatch as he navigates his own damaged existence, and as he tries to answer the question not just why he wanted to end his very good life, but whether he can stop himself from trying to end it again.

An eye-opening story that expertly navigates the triumph of family, the depths of despair, and the humor of the most mundane details of life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The motivation behind a teenager's suicide attempt and its lasting effects on family and friends is the subject of this rather disturbing, well-crafted novel. Seventeen-year-old Jersey Hatch, who narrates, attempted to blow his brains out using his father's gun. Now, back home from rehab and frustrated with his limitations, caused by the gunshot wound, Jersey struggles to remember why he wanted to kill himself. Mama Rush, an elderly neighbor, and her granddaughter Leza try to help him-the only two people in the whole community who seem willing to talk to Jersey honestly. Jersey's random, compulsive narrative (he possesses little ability to sensor his speech) makes this brain-damaged character compelling. Most of the secondary characters are also believable-although some of their angry reactions to him seem extreme, given his incapacitated state. Vaught's tightly focused story never deviates from its exploration as to what would drive a teen to suicide. Readers who ever wondered what could happen if their suicide attempt failed may find this to be a powerful cautionary tale. Ages 12- up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
Jersey Hatch has a recurring dream. In the dream, his legs and his arms work like they should and he has no scars. Jersey always wakes up from the dream to realize that his extremities do not work like they should and that he has scars on his head where the bullet entered and exited. Jersey does not remember the night he was shot in the head and because he can't remember it, he can sometimes believe that it did not really happen. The people in the rehab center tell him that the memories will return, at least some of them. He may never remember the year prior to the shooting. This is a symptom of the brain injury that he has suffered. Another symptom of the injury is the difficulty he has walking, bending over, and doing ordinary everyday things. Jersey sometimes blurts out things that he is thinking about without taking time to put them into a sentence. He often repeats words that he has just heard someone else say. Author Vaught has presented a very realistic picture of what it is like to live with a traumatic brain injury. Nevertheless, the depiction moves slowly in its journal-style presentation and much of the description of the shooting is very graphic. The fact that the shooting was a self-inflicted injury adds to the depressing nature of the story. This is not a recommended title for middle school or younger readers, although the publisher has indicated an age range of 12 and up. An adult who wishes to share this with a teenager would be well advised to read it first, and then be able to talk about it with the teen reader. The idea has great merit but presents more than one victim in this story of teen suicide.
VOYA - Rollie Welch
The search for self, a mainstay young adult theme, and the mesmerizing topic of teen suicide, are combined in this intriguing novel, a work that demands attention. Early on, readers are rocked by this sentence: "On August 2, a Friday a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday, a little less than a year after I took a bullet in the head, I finally got to go home." Jersey Hatch has survived his suicide attempt. By sheer luck the bullet did not kill him, but it changed him and those around him forever. He is blind in one eye and one of his arms and a leg do not work so well anymore. Told by hospital staff that "it's gonna be harder on the outside," Jersey realizes that his parents, afraid he will digress, only speak in clichTd phrases. Frustrated that he has a blank memory of that horrifying day, the former athlete tries to hunt down reasons why he pulled the trigger. Vaught nails Jersey's uncontrollable blurting of words looping inside his brain with remarkable sections of dialogue. But the strength of the work is allowing readers to experience the pain, anguish, and anger that Jersey's parents, friends and teachers undergo when contacting the broken shell of a once selfish and arrogant teen. Drawing from her work as a neuropsychologist, Vaught includes extensive heart-wrenching descriptions of a brain-damaged person's struggle to re-enter society. Teen readers' blood will run cold, however, when Jersey perceives that once again his life is not worth living.
Robyn Seglem
Jersey Hatch can't remember the past two years. He can't remember why he's blind in one eye, why his once-athletic body no longer works quite right, and most of all, what happened the night he was shot. The night he shot himself. After months of rehabilitation, Jersey returns home, sending him on a quest to find the answer to what made him pull the trigger. Told in the stilted language of a young man who cannot control his thoughts and speech, Jersey's story unfolds through the help of his childhood neighbors: Mama Rush, Leza, and finally, his ex-best friend, Todd. Along the way, he must also face and accept the impact his actions had on his own family. Although not a conventional mystery, this book keeps the reader guessing and wondering what drove this once seemingly perfect boy to attempt the ultimate act. Jersey's story is not one that will quickly be forgotten.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Having spent the better part of his last years of high school in a hospital and rehabilitation center, Jersey Hatch recovers from the brain damage inflicted by a gunshot to his head, by his own hand. Through a hazy series of flashbacks, memories, dreams, and scenes from the present-often coded in what will appear to many readers as haphazard gibberish-he reaches inward to uncover the lost pieces of his memory and to figure out why he might have shot himself. There's no doubt as to the ring of truth in both Jersey's character and situation, and Vaught, a neuropsychologist, understands these afflictions. The more lucid parts of her story should hook readers and help them to fully grasp and empathize with the protagonist's truly dire situation. However, Jersey's more abstract patterns of thought and mutterings are perhaps too realistic for less-determined readers, and seem to make better food for a psychological journal than a teen novel.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After a botched suicide attempt leaves him with permanent neurological damage, Jersey Hatch attempts to piece his life back together again. Hindering him is his workaholic banker mother, overly sensitive teacher father and unsympathetic teachers, classmates and former friends. His allies include Mama Rush, the African-American mother hen of the neighborhood, and her granddaughter Leza. With his "memory book" beneath his arm, Jersey endures the humiliation of physical and mental impairment, and experiences crushing guilt over his action, which affected the lives of everyone in his world. Written by a neuropsychologist, the story strives for authenticity of voice, yet at times gets bogged down by repetition and Jersey's random vocalizations. There is also a tendency to essentialize good and evil characters, as Mama Rush and Leza are almost too good to be true, yet Jersey's former crowd is heinously mean (in one memorable scene, a former teammate urinates on Jersey in the boys' lavatory at school). Jersey's ex-best friend Todd's ambivalence and his mother's private anguish provide a more nuanced and realistic window into the tale. A worthwhile read. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.45(w) x 7.33(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Vaught, author of other books for young readers including Stormwitch, is a full-time neuropsychologist who has helped many patients with difficulties like Jersey's. She lives with her family in Tennessee.

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Trigger 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
J_Elliott More than 1 year ago
I just couldnt stop reading. By the end I just held the book in my hands trying to get over what happened. I actually cried alittle and I'm not an expressive person. This is the only book I have ever wrote a review for, it was that good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intense, also recommend too crazy to live too beautiful too die great books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jersey seemed he had everything but when he shoots himself he has to start his life all over again. When he comes home everyone is different and he cant remember a thing before the accident and can't even think without accidentally saying it out loud. So what did happen? Jersey, with the help of people from his life, tries to remember the past and figure out why he shot himself. I thought this was an amazing story and an emotional experience as we figure out the past with Jersey. Yes, it is a cheap book but it was one of the best books i read in a while.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started to read this book when my friend had it during algebra class. i got all the way up to Chapter 4 and couldn't put it down. so i went and checked it out of the school library. i love it. its amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as Exposed, but still interesting and unique :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a dark story but I loved reading it, issues for teens and being aware is so important for everyone especially parent. It made me cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this story and i felt a whirlwind of emotions. I relearned what weakness, anger, sadness, acceptance, rejection, and guilt could be at their base. I recommend this book fullheartedly but with the knowledge you will be left wanting more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
If I had to choose, I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The reason for this is because it’s viewpoint. I enjoy how it’s from the mind of a boy who has brain damage. Seeing as the author actually studies brain damaged people, it’s interesting to see how it might actually be from their viewpoint and what might actually go through their head. Also, it’s a creative plot, the way that the boy doesn’t know why exactly everything is like this now and wants to find out. In this story, the main character, Jersey Hatch, somehow led himself to shoot himself in the head. He surprisingly lived through it and is left with a half-working brain. He has trouble with things that come easy to us and has to deal with worried, robotic parents and old friends that for some reason now hate him. Jersey doesn’t know why he shot himself or what he did to make everyone hate him, so he has to search for answers throughout the story. I would recommend this book to people who read at a higher level and enjoy realistic yet somewhat sad stories. The reason you should be at a higher level is because you really have to understand the effects of a brain injury and be able to follow Jersey’s sometimes confusing way of thinking. You should enjoy realistic yet depressing stories because the main problem of this book is now very common and realistic and happens a lot, and for the most part it’s not exactly positive and happy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was perfect and left me guessing what would happen next. But the story also takes a while to get to the point and annoyed me a bit at times. Some pages were full of repetitive phrases and words, but I enjoyed reading it over all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jaymithompson More than 1 year ago
This book is heart renching!! I could not put it down. One act that effects so many lives!! READ THIS BOOK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Call-me_Lynny94 More than 1 year ago
this book has made me cry just thinking of what he went through after the incident. It is a truly good book and makes you think about your own life and appreciate what you have and who you have
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Firetears More than 1 year ago
The title alone is eye-catching. When I was browsing the book store and stumbled upon a story about a guy who attempted suicide but failed and had to start his life all over again, I couldn't pass it up. I couldn't wait to dig into the book and see how it develops for the protagonist, Jersey, as he tries to figure out the life he doesn't remember. The plot is pretty straight-forward. Jersey Hatch is a fish-out-of-water in his unfamiliar life. His parents walk eggshells around him constantly and no one from his old life would even speak to him, including his ex-best friend, Todd. The only people who give him the time of day is Todd's sister, Leza, and his grandma, Mama Rush. These people prove pivotal in his journey back into his old life. I applaud the character relationships throughout the book. Jersey gains a genuine friendship with Leza that doesn't appear forced or sugar-coated. Near the end of the book, you also see how he grows closer to his father as they start to find common ground through a particular event that happened to them. Unfortunately, the development with the plot isn't as good as it was with the characters. My biggest problem with the book is that it really goes nowhere until the last bit. It's more about the struggle that Jersey endures after he shoots himself, rather than what actually caused him to do it. And trust me, the word "struggle" isn't used lightly. Jersey gets pissed on (at one point: literally) throughout the entire book before we finally discover what drove him to do what he did. Susan Vaught proves to have amazing potential for her first book and she proves to be very passionate about the characters and the story she's telling. She did a wonderful job at bringing the characters of Jersey and Mama Rush to life. I would consider Trigger to be a must-read for troubled youth and I'd certainly recommend it to a wide variety of readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SoaringLove More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It has a great story line, about a guy who wakes up from a coma and finds out that he tried to shoot himself. Aparently he did it wrong adn accidentally servived... But he doesnt remember why he did it. He knows some things though. Like, His friend hates him, His mom USED to be happy, and he tried to kill himself with his dads gun... Trigger is totally Great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lglover23 More than 1 year ago
i loved it could't put it down. read it in three days. it keeps you moving and guessing. wish there was a sequel to it so we can see more of jersey life as he progresses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago