Sunday, October 23, 2011
Inside Out by Terry Trueman
Trueman, Terry. Inside Out. New York: Harpertempest, 2003.
Zachary Wahhsted is the main character in this novel. Zach suffers from schizophrenia. He suffers from hearing voices that make fun of him. He has fewer problems when he takes his medicine on time. The story begins when Zach is at a local coffee shop waiting for his mother to bring him his meds. He wants to order a maple bar when he is in the middle of a hold up. The police arrive before the burglars can escape. The burglars are juveniles themselves. They agree to let everyone in the coffee shop go, but Zach stays behind as a hostage while they are making a deal with the police using Zach's doctor. It has been too many hours without meds and Zach struggles with the voices in his head as he begins to hallucinate.
Terry Trueman does an excellent job of telling the story through first person with Zach. The author weaves the dark world of schizophrenia with Zach's words. The reader must read all of the words on the page. At times, I as the reader began to laugh at the way Zach honestly answers the burglars. He can not infer or read between the lines. During the entire hostage situation Zach is fixated on getting a maple bar. That is his true concern. Even when the hostage situation is over Zach still wants the maple bar. Terry does a great job of showing the reader what it is like in the mind of a schizophrenic young adult. At times what Zach is saying does not make any sense to the reader. "Long gone long gone long gone longgonelonggonelonggone" "Hey, Wasteoid, time to die" (p.92). Zach is a very powerful character. The theme of the novel is schizophrenia and the reader is left wanting to know more about this disease that attacked Zach as a young adult. Trueman adds notes from Zach's doctor visits to teach more about schizophrenia. The plot untangles as the reader discovers the burglars have no real weapons or ammunition. They are just trying to get money to buy medicine for their mom who has cancer. This part of the book would yield to a great discussion. It is surprising that an odd friendship develops between the robbers and Zach. The reader feels sorry for all of them. The hostage situation ends peacefully and then the reader finds out that Zach committed suicide three months later. What a powerful surprise ending! This novel leaves the reader with a lot to think about and a lot to discuss.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
A strength of this book is the surprising climax. Zach's words are also a strength to understand the mind of a schizophrenic. I did not see any weaknesses. I was riveted until the end of the book.
School Library Journal states "Trueman uses Zach's narration to challenge readers to feel the confusion and dark struggle of schizophrenia. The effect is disturbing, if somewhat didactic."
Booklist states "excerpts from Zach's psychiatric records interweave with his first-person account of the dramatic robbery, offering readers the medical facts as well as Zach's personal story, especially the terror and confusion he feels when he can't distinguish between the real and the imagined."
Christchurch Public Library states "Short, sharp and shocking. It's simply brilliant."
Myshelf.com states “Inside Out” is a psychological thriller that will keep you reading to the surprising end. Few teen books out there deliver half as much intelligent writing as this compact novel."
Publishers Weekly states "Despite the suspenseful story line, this is ultimately a book about understanding and empathy; the climax is surprising, logical and moving. Fans of Cormier will likely enjoy this psychological and gripping tale." August 2003
School Library Journal states "Trueman uses Zach's narration to challenge readers to feel the confusion and dark struggle of schizophrenia. The effect is disturbing..." 2003
Kirkus states "... events unfold with an edge of danger that provides riveting suspense ... a plot line that grabs and doesn't let go." July 15, 2003.