Damage By A. M. Jenkins Damage was a great book because I could totally relate to the narrator, who was also one of the main characters. In the beginning of the story, the narrator, Austin Reid, is looking at a newspaper clipping of himself as being the "Pride of the Panthers", which is like saying he is the best member of the Panther football team. He is looking at the clipping and is saying how he recognizes the boy in the picture, but not who he sees in the mirror. I think that Austin can't accept the changes he has faced, or he would feel the boy he sees in the mirror more of who he is than just a stupid picture of him taken a year ago.
Austin feels like everything around him stayed the same, while he was the only thing changing. He feels depressed, like there is no reason for him to keep living his life.
He feels something is missing inside of him, like there is this big empty space. No particular event sparked this change of emotion, just something some teenagers must experience. Austin feels the need to hide his depression and thoughts of suicide, while pretending to lead the life he had last year. He just puts on a smile and says all of the right things. Austin describes the change between going from the real him to the fake, normal one, as flipping a switch, a sudden transformation.
In about the middle of the book, Austin asks out the prettiest girl in the town, Heather. When he is out with Heather, he feels like everything goes back to normal and everything is okay again. I think that he feels good when he's with Heather is because she is one of the girls the old or, "normal" him used to date. He feels good because this is all familiar territory to him, and puts sense, or something he understands, back into his new, confusing life.
Heather is an interesting character in this story. Heather's father committed suicide when she was five years old and she was the one to discover him. I think this is because she couldn't control anything about her father's death, and so Heather feels the need to be in control of everything and needs to be the boss of everyone. Austin's father died of cancer when Austin was five, and he's coped nicely with it, so he tries to help Heather deal with her father's death. Austin only messes up the relationship and also realized that he too is suicidal.
Austin is about to slit his wrists with his father's old razor when he goes to talk to his wise-beyond-his-years friend, Curtis. Curtis has a very strong sense of morals and is very vocal about them. I think this is because his father left Curtis and his mom with a young blonde secretary. I think that Curtis is trying to make up for his dad being such a slime ball. Curtis gets Austin to appreciate the friends and family that he has and saves him from killing himself. Finally one of my books has a happy ending! I would strongly suggest this book to any teenager because it makes you realize that there is more to your life than just what is going on right now, that you do have a future and that generally most of your problems will be solved over time. It also makes you grateful for everything that you have now. This is also a great book because it's just flat out fun to read. The characters are great, even though there isn't much of a plot. In the end, even though you want Austin and Heather to get back together, he realizes that she was shallow and refused to admit she had a problem, although she readily pointed out when others had something wrong with them. I thought this book was funny and I will probably read it again.