Blowout

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Susan Vaught
Bloomsbury
074758284X
September 2006

The art of the review is often to circle gently around the crux of the novel without ever giving away the ending. Unfortunately the ending is at the heart of this novel. So in the immortal words of pre-internet newsreaders everywhere, if you don�t want to know the result, look away now.
Blowout is a book about a failed suicide. Jersey Hatch is an ex-jock and golden boy who for some reason took it upon himself to put his dad�s gun to his head and press the trigger.
Although he survived he�s not done himself any favours. Consequences include a loss of verbal control and his short-term memory is� erm shot.
The narrative follows his journey to try and discover just why he might have done such a terrible deed. Blowout tells of his attempts to re-establish his relationships with those who might be able to help him discover more about his state of mind that terrible day.
And while Jersey�s emotional struggle with his situation and continuing dark thoughts is well recounted, some of the supporting characters, notably his mother, are defined solely by their anger.
The author clearly knows her facts, Susan Vaught is a clinical psychologist based in the States where the most common method of adolescent suicide is shooting (in the UK it�s a drugs overdose). She�s treated survivors so she knows just what the consequences, both physical and emotional, are.
A central theme of the book is dispelling the myth that people only commit suicide for big reasons. Blowout explores �the effect that such a terrible act has on family, friends and the person holding the gun�.
The trouble is that while this may be factually correct, the build up to Jersey�s search for reasons leads you to expect the exact opposite. In the end knowing that the reasons behind his actions don�t seem that significant gives a deflating aspect to an optimistic ending.
Books that attempt to fictionalise a �condition� will inevitably be compared to Mark Haddon�s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This is an interesting read but it�s not in that class.



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This page contains a single entry by Alastair Ray published on November 23, 2006 8:28 PM.

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