Walking on Glass [NOOK Book]


Your mother's suicide attempt has left her in a coma from which she's never waking up. You know that she wouldn't want to live like this, but could you really help her die? Here you are, making the hardest decision of your life and there's no one to help you: Your father has disappeared into depression. Your best friend is becoming someone you no longer want to know. There is a girl who could help, maybe, if you'd let her. But in the end, it's all up to you.

A free-verse novel ...

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Walking on Glass

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Your mother's suicide attempt has left her in a coma from which she's never waking up. You know that she wouldn't want to live like this, but could you really help her die? Here you are, making the hardest decision of your life and there's no one to help you: Your father has disappeared into depression. Your best friend is becoming someone you no longer want to know. There is a girl who could help, maybe, if you'd let her. But in the end, it's all up to you.

A free-verse novel from debut author Alma Fullerton plunges deep inside the psyche of a young man faced with a life-and-death decision.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A teen's free-verse journal reveals his raw emotions and pain, leading up to the decision to pull his mother's life support machines. "Wires force life into a body/ left hanging/ like a marionette," he writes. Through the entries, the unnamed narrator reveals that he was not always the most likable kid (e.g., with his friend Jack, whom his mother did not like, he beats up a peer and steals his shoes), and he must live with the fact that if "I would have come home/ five minutes earlier," he might have prevented his mother's suicide attempt. The author credibly traces the gradual changes in the teen. During the six months his mother has been on life support, his feelings of guilt torment him. "I should have told her/ I loved her./ Maybe then/ she wouldn't be/ in the hospital/ today." When the doctor explains that there is no hope, "They ask if [my father] would/ consent/ to have the machines/ shut down/ and donate/ Mom's organs." But the man says, "I can't let go yet." The narrator struggles with guilt ("The thought of my own mother/ dying/ shouldn't leave the taste of/ freedom/ in my mouth"), yet he's also ready to move forward. Never preachy, Fullerton's well-written first novel may well spark discussion about the ethics of withdrawing life support, and the meaning of the word "life." Ages 14-up. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Enter the mind of a young man as he writes journal entries in verse and reveals his heavy thoughts. His longtime friend Jack turns to violence by beating up a kid for shoes, abusing a girl, and shooting a woman; this friendship no longer provides the support that the young man needs during his time of emotional pain. The real tension is the relationship with his mother, who is in a coma after trying to commit suicide. Are the machines providing life support or prolonging the inevitable? He cannot turn to talk with his distressed father who is working through his own confusion, decisions, and grief. The young man becomes interested in Alissa, a new girl. She provides him with the friendship he needs, yet he pushes her away as he attempts to sort out his own mind. The journal entries are filled with powerful metaphors and similes that illustrate the tension that toils through his mind, as he thinks about the many moments and captured times with his mother. The drama builds to the end of the story.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
In this brief, stark "journal" in free verse, an unnamed teenager tells how his life has been changed by his mother's suicide attempt a few months ago. Depressed and unstable, she tried to hang herself, but he walked in and managed to pull her down from a chandelier, covering them both in a shower of glass. Now his mother is in a coma, with no chance of recovery, and his father can't seem to let her go. Meanwhile, the boy's vicious friend Jack is beating people up and egging him on to more and more dangerous behavior. Grieving and angry, the boy feels trapped. Then he meets a sensitive, supportive girl named Alissa and decides to turn his back on Jack. Will he be able to find the courage to set his mother free, by pulling the plug on the machinery that keeps her alive? This is heavy stuff, told in a direct and heart-wrenching fashion: exaggerated, perhaps, but effective. It's a bit reminiscent of Terry Trueman's novels Cruise Control and Stuck in Neutral, about people caught up in tragic circumstances not of their making, and raises some of the same moral issues. For thoughtful teens.
VOYA - Lucy Schall
In his diary of poems, an unnamed son traces his decision to end his mother's comatose state resulting from her suicide attempt, which he thwarted, and his depressed father's unwillingness to remove her life support. He also experiences peer pressure from his friend, Jack, now a gang member who leads the grieving and angry teen to theft and bullying. He reaches out to a sensitive girl for help, but ultimately the decision is his. He fears that he will be a murderer but remembers that his mother kicked him away when he tried to save her. He believes that this lady, filled with fiery emotions, would not want just existence. After Jack kills a woman during a drive-by shooting, the struggling young man decides that allowing his mother to die, by contrast, is merciful and not criminal. The brutal friend, a mentally ill mother, the medical recommendation, a weak father, an understanding girlfriend, and a reflective therapist make the narrator's decision seem to be a logical, compassionate, and acceptable ending to an everyman journey to maturity. The repetition of "caged" implies that the decision gives freedom not only to the mother but also to the entire family. His stopping life support ends the novel. The author does not explore any adult reaction or resulting emotional trauma. Anyone reading or recommending this book should also consider Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman (HarperCollins, 2000/VOYA December 2000) or the paranormal Waves by Sharon Dogar (Scholastic, 2007/VOYA review this issue). Both include views from characters whose lives may be ended.
Kirkus Reviews
Readers should not be fooled by the size of this little book: A huge problem is contained therein. Before the story begins, the teenaged narrator has come home to find his mother attempting suicide by hanging herself from a chandelier. He tries to catch her and hold on to her legs, but the entire chandelier crashes down on them. It breaks his arm, and he lets go of his mother. The book is about the aftermath of the event, the netherworld of having a parent hospitalized in a coma on life support and the helplessness-and guilt-family members and friends experience. Throughout the story, told in a minimalist verse with repeating symbols and motifs, but lacking any explication or explanation throughout, the narrator tries to find his way through this terrible thing and to make the very decision that brought the Terri Schiavo case to light: whether or not to turn off the machines that support a life. A real page-turner, it never finds real traction on any substantive issue. Readers may appreciate the brevity of a work on such a dire topic, but there is no wise guidance offering young adults deeper understanding or insight and no suggestions of where to go if one wanted to learn more. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061972614
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 14 years
  • File size: 622 KB

Meet the Author

Alma Fullerton was born in Ottawa and grew up in a large military family. She's lived all over Canada and in Europe and now resides in Ontario with her husband and two daughters.

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Read an Excerpt

Walking on Glass

Just to let you know

I begin this under protest.

The further you read, the more you invade my mind.

Take something from me I don't want to give.

My thoughts.

You will enter a place I don't want to be.

My conscience.

Walking on Glass. Copyright © by Alma Fullerton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Best book ever

    This is coming from a girl who normaly doesnt read. For some reason i randomly picked this book of the shelfe at my schools library and once i started reading, well i just couldnt put it down. Over all this is an amazing book and anyone will like it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012


    Best book i have ever read in my life. I read it at school and it's such a good book that it only took me two hours just to read the whole thing including the contents and what it's about.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    the best and easiest book to read!!

    this book is grat because it brings you through the problem he is trying to solve at his point of view.. even tho im still reading this book right now i have a hard time putting it down!¿

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    A mother on life-support. A father who keeps pretending that his wife will get better. A young man, torn between doing what is right and taking the easier path of least resistance. <BR/><BR/>Alma Fullerton paints the story of one family's turmoil in WALKING ON GLASS, a short tale told in free verse. When one teen arrives home one day in June, he finds his mother near death after an attempted suicide. Although he saves her life, the only thing keeping her tethered to this world are the wires and equipment forcing her to take each breath as she lies in a hospital bed. <BR/><BR/>"Mom's mood swings always coincided with whatever Dad and I did. <BR/>Up and down. <BR/>Up and down. <BR/>Pulling our strings, like big yo-yos. <BR/>And even now, when she can't move or talk, she's still pulling those strings." <BR/><BR/>As the teen's father lives in a world of denial, as the teen himself realizes that his best friend's life of crime and anger is beginning to rub off on him, he realizes that if there is ever to be an end to the torment he suffers, the decision will have to be his alone. As he struggles to learn why his mother wanted to die, as he rages with anger over his father's lack of acceptance, and as he faces the knowledge that life will never be the same, we fight the fight right along with him. <BR/><BR/>Ms. Fullerton has written a heartrending, emotional story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    Amazing, Compelling

    Your mother is in a coma because she wanted to kill herself. Would it be so wrong to give her what she wanted? Walking on Glass by Alma Fullerton is a compelling free-verse novel that addresses one 16-year-old boy's struggle to understand his mother's attempted suicide as well as the decision he must make now that her life is in his hands. Fullerton's novel delves deep into the issues that have been created by today's medical technology and the blurred line between life and death. Walking on Glass blew any expectation I had of it previously completely out of the water. I never thought I would be so immediately swept up on the unnamed protagonist¿s emotional roller coaster, feeling his love, anger, bitterness, resentment, and anguish all along side him. After finishing the book, I just lay on my bed, motionless, letting everything we had just experienced together soak in. I honestly couldn't have spoken for anything. I could only think. Alma Fullerton has produced a captivating and powerful novel that is simply too indescribable for words.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2006

    would it be murder or mercy?

    In Walking on Glass a young man questions himself as he relives the events that have shattered his life and left him wondering. And now he has to make the decision to shut off the machines keeping his mother alive and finish what she already started or just watch her lay in the hospital practically dead. Related to the Terri Schiavo case, this book painfully makes you realize how foggy the line between life and death. Sometimes you have to make a decision that is the best even if it hurts. This book to me was very depressing but also an eye opener. Why would a mother try to kill herself and leave the family she helped build? I recommend this book to anyone. You can¿t put it down. It makes you question and realize just what is possible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 6 Customer Reviews

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