More than a year after suffering a debilitating brain injury, 17-year-old Jersey Hatch is finally headed home from the hospital, ready to pick up the broken pieces of his life. Jersey, whose neurological injuries have left him clumsy, impulsive and partially blind, has entirely forgotten the last two years of his life. He returns home to a father who handles him like a china doll, a mother who retreats from him, and former friends who treat him with hostility and even hatred. Looking at old photographs of himself the ROTC officer, football player, straight-A student and golf star even Jersey can't understand what happened, what made him pick up his father's gun that day and try to kill himself. With the help of his few allies and his carefully constructed memory book, Jersey struggles to reintegrate into his old life while delving into his own barely remembered past, trying to understand what drove him to a failed suicide attempt. Trigger is a provocative, challenging novel that vividly illustrates the damage caused by suicide, not only to the direct victim, but also to his or her entire community. Told in Jersey's own voice, at times barely coherent due to his mental impairment, the novel also dramatizes the difficulties faced by a young person with brain injuries. Author Susan Vaught is a practicing neuropsychologist, and her sensitivity toward the subject brings a heartbreaking realism to the story.
Trigger is not an easy novel to read its style and its dark subject matter make it most appropriate for mature teens but it is an important one. Jersey's unsteady journey into his past will give readers a better understanding of the causes and wide-ranging effects of teen suicide, and should help promote discussion of this ongoing problem.