Was it a deer in the road, or a dog or the setting sun? What was it that caused Jenna's mother to swerve across the Tappan Zee Bridge, killing herself and an oncoming driver and leaving Jenna critically injured? The teen can't remember the details, but she's certain that she's to blame. Using fragmented, conversational sentences and occasional stream of consciousness, Joyce Carol Oates takes readers into the mind of 15-year-old Jenna Abbott in After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away.
After the swelling in Jenna's brain has subsided, she finds herself in the blue, a dreamy state with little pain, no memories and no need for an estranged, workaholic father. But with more rehab, fewer meds and no place to call home, the blue fades away and Jenna begins to categorize the events in her life as either before the wreck or after the wreck. Resuming her life takes the teen from her New York City suburb to small-town New Hampshire to live with her aunt and start her sophomore year at a new high school. Desperate to return to the blue, she is drawn to Trina, a senior who abuses drugs and alcohol, purges, parties too hard anything to escape her own dark secrets. When one party gets out of hand, however, and Jenna faces tragedy once more, she finds herself wanting to become part of life again.
Another turning point for Jenna is meeting fellow student Crow, a mysterious, dark-haired biker who has survived a crash or two as well. Through their brief friendship, she confronts her guilt and learns to remember only what is important and forget the rest. So was it a deer, a dog or the setting sun that caused the accident? Through Jenna's compelling story, Oates shows that what really matters is making the most of your life now.