Saturday, April 14, 2007

Inside Out by Terry Trueman

Inside Out by Terry Trueman.

I was really moved by this book. I found myself drawn to the characters immediately. It was amazing to me the depth of character development that Trueman created in such a short book. I felt I got a true sense of what a person with schizophrenia goes through…I thought Zach’s character was extremely well done. I really liked the technique Trueman uses in the beginning of each chapter to interweave excerpts from Zach's psychiatric records into the novel. The first person account of the robbery really gives the reader an insight into Zach’s problems. But being the eternal optimist that I am, I thought that since Zach was able to cope and keep Dirtbag and Rat at bay he was getting better and this episode was going to help him prove to himself that he could learn how to deal with his illness. I was crushed when we learn that he committed suicide. Didn’t see that coming.

I loved the empathy that Alan has for Zach. Again, I think Trueman very quickly, in a minimalist way, creates a situation in the novel that really evokes emotion from the reader. I end up really feeling for these two robbers. One of my favorite passages is when one of the older women calls them punks, and says they deserve what happens to them. Her friend responds, with a touch of her friend’s arm, “Ethel, please. They’re just boys whose mother is ill….” And I love Alan for being so kind and understanding of Alan! Again, I know those rose-colored glasses are on but I don’t want them to go to jail either. In the real world would this be wrapped up so nicely? Probably not, but I was happy that Dr. Curt agreed to help them.

Lastly, I felt that because this was such a short book, and a quick read, it would have appeal to reluctant readers. Anxious to hear what you all thought.

10 comments:

Darla said...

Testing..from who else but Darla?

Darla said...

I agree with everytning that Kathy said. One thing, though, I do fear when people with mental illnesses start getting "better". It is then that some commit suicide.
Like Langton Hughes' poem "Too Blue" says, when a person is in such a state of despair they are too blue to accomplish the act. When they start to get better, they then find the means and the energy to commit suicide. The characterization was excellent. I actually thought that Dirtbag and Rat were bully-like characters who beat up on Zach regularly. It took me a while to realize that they were in Zach's mind and what an interesting mind he has! I loved Zach and his innocence. It was easy to see that he was above average intelligence. It almost seems that he had a "touch" of tourrets (sp?) the way he blurted out things when he knew that he shouldn't have been talking. The ending was not fair at all and neither was the fact that Zach became schizophrenic. He was loving and caring and wherever he goes, I hope there is an abundance of maple bars just for him.

Amanda said...

I also thought that this book was very good at giving insight to a schizophrenic's mind. I thought it was very interesting that it was told from his point of view. This was a very quick read for me, which I like. I agree with Kathy that this would be a good book for reluctant readers. The ending was quite shocking to me as well, but I guess it was more realistic since there is no cure for schizophrenia and in the book we saw what happened in Zach's mind when he was late taking his meds. While students would probably have a difficult time related to Zach's character, it is beneficial to read about the issues that others deal with daily.

Kim Seeley said...

I really enjoyed this book. I like that it was a quick read and that it kept my interest. I couldn't put it down. I felt close to the characters and wanted things to work out for all of them. I was shocked by the ending as well. My only worry is that suicide is a very touchy issue for some teens that we work with. I myself lost a friend to suicide and have many bad feelings towards it. This may be a poor choice for someone if they have emotional problems or if they have lost someone to suicide.

Charlene said...

I enjoyed this book alot. Terry Trueman was very realistic in his description of how a schizophrenic mind works. I would like to know more about how he became familiar with this disorder. I worked with schizophrenics for over 10 years. The fact that Zach decompensated so rapidly when his meds were late reminded me of several of my clients. Sadly, the ending did not surprise me. Schizophrenia is a catastrophic illness. People often develope it at a very young age as Zach did. Schizophrenics need to be closely supervised and their meds need to be closely supervised as well. Many of them have prns when they become delusional. Zach should have been placed in a more restrictive setting especially after his mother found him with a rifle in his mouth. There is no way that we would have allowed any of our clients to have access to a gun or any other dangerous weapons. Zach seemed to have characteristics of autism and maybe a touch of tourettes as Darla stated. This would be another reason for him to be in a more secure placement. Schizophrenics often have above average IQs as Zach did. Some are very brilliant. This adds to the heartbreaking nature of this illness. There is so much potential lost. I have done research units on Schizophrenia with my senior English Class in the past. They have watched the movie "Beautiful Mind" which is a true story about a genious with schizophrenia and how he fought with the disease to win a Noble Peace Prize. If I were to use this book, I would probably leave out the rifle and the suicide part.

RKennedy said...

I also enjoyed this book and found it a quick read that kept my attention. I thought the characters were well developed and I was almost immediately on their side. I was intrigued by Trueman's insight into a the mind of a schizophrenic and enjoyed Zach as a character throughout the story. I thought the notes at the begining of each chapter were a clever way to add more information and character developlment in such a short story. I was a little put off by the emphasize on violence in the book. I feel like with everything already going on in the world there is really no need for it in this story. Between the robbery and multiple mentions of suicide I hope that this is not what kids who read the book would walk away with.

Cathy said...

I enjoyed Inside Out. The descriptions of what Zach faced in everyday life were very eye opening. I especially liked it when the older brother said that they would get out of this maybe some time in jail but that Zach will nerver get out of his problems. It is so sad that no matter what was done Zach knew that he would never fit in. I was surprised at the disassociative characteristices. I had not seen those before. It made me think that there was some autism involved.
I would worry about using this book with my students. The suicide at the end may give them ideas especially if they suffer from mental illness. I had a student years ago with this problem and we used alternative assignments when doing Death of a Salesman and Hamlet.

Kathy J. said...

I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. I was especially taken with Darla’s comment that referred to the Langton Hughes' poem "Too Blue." I had never thought about suicide that way before, but the poem made a great deal of sense. It really got me thinking.

Kathy

Jim West said...

I must agree with everyone's statements about the book. I don't want to repeat too much here. The book was a real page turner for me. A book stands out to me when the reader is able to really get into the mind of it's characters. The way this book was written, enabled the reader to do this really well. I was touched by the compassion that was demonstrated when one of the robbers said that at least they might get out of prison some day, but Zach would never be free. I must agree with some of the other blogs in reference to subject matter and suicide. I have had more than one student in my classes in the past 7 years here, that have attempted suicide...People you would honestly never imagine attempting such a thing. It proves that you cannot always see the true inside of a person, and know if they would ever be a person that might attempt suicide. With the type of students I am teaching, I can see this being an issue. Many come from broken homes, parents who are on drugs themselves, verbal and physical abuse, and just a complete lack of love and structure in the home. They may not be dealing with schizophrenia, but they may be able to see a parallel...they did not pick the home situation they find themselves in, and they do not see an escape. I found the book to be a fantastic read, but would be leary in using it in an English class, especially for the students I teach.

chris klafehn said...

I have to say "ditto" to much of what was said in previous logs. I have really enjoyed reading Terry Trueman's books, Struck in Neutral was one of my favorites. Inside Out was a quick read, I agree that reluctant readers will enjoy this book. However, I agree with what Kim said, we need to be careful recommending this book if someone has emotional issues. I think that "Inside Out" would be an insightful read for most students.