STUMPED, a YA contemporary by Kate Larkindale
Seventeen-year-old Ozzy has a super-hot girlfriend who’s ready to take their relationship to the next level. Tonight. At the lake.
But a missing condom scuttles his plans for seduction. Furious, Ozzy takes his girlfriend home and drives off – into the path of an oncoming truck. He wakes up in the hospital with both legs amputated above the knees.
When his girlfriend runs out of his hospital room gagging after one look at him, Ozzy knows he’s a hideous freak. He becomes convinced he’s blown any chance of getting a girlfriend and having sex.
Determined to prove he can still be a man, Ozzy throws himself into dumping the burden of his virginity, but finds there’s a limited number of people willing to touch legless dudes in wheelchairs. His obsession takes him into the seedy underworld of brothels and escort services where he discovers the difference between sex and intimacy, and that sometimes the price you pay for getting what you want is much higher than a sex worker’s fee.
Some reviews for Stumped:
“As a person who works with students who have a variety of disabilities, I am happy to report that Ms. Larkindale did a wonderful job with this topic. She not only captures the language and emotions of adolescents, but also the heartbreak and difficulty of being a teen with a disability or terminal illness. The main character in this story, Ozzy, isn’t a great kid – he won’t melt your heart with his insight and strength and willingness to “make the best” of his situation. That’s precisely what I liked about this story! He is a real teenage boy. So preoccupied with sex and his body that he can’t see the blessings in front of him such as his friends and family. It is very interesting to read his evolution and understanding about what it means to live with a disability. The secondary characters of his family, the sex workers and friends in group are also well written, though I think she could have spent more time developing Miranda. Overall, a very good read and a GREAT addition to the YA genre. Highly recommend!” – V. Davis-Showell
“This book was so heartbreaking but put so much into perspective on the life of a person who has lost the ability to walk. Just the writing alone was so touching and not easily forgotten. The characters brought the book to life and made for an extremely great story.” – Debbins
“What would you do if at the most pivotal time in your life, when you’re at the edge of finding out what sex is and growing more into manhood as most boys to men see it, you instead lose your legs? Your super-hot girlfriend? And your view of the world around you?
Well, if you’re Ozzy, you lash out. You curse. You act like a real teenage boy who feels like nothing is ever going to be the same again. Because you know what, it’s not.
In Stumped, Ms. Larkindale provides a richly populated and emotionally charged journey to uncover just what Ozzy does and who he does it with. And in his journey, Ozzy is not a sappy cut-out designed to gloss over all the darkness of such a life-changing event, nor is he a permanently broken guy who will never find his way. Instead, we meet a real almost man, who finds out that humanity has quite a number of different views from which to grow up.
I highly recommend this emotionally-resonant work and its “stumped” main character. Sometimes being mixed up is the beginning of something quite interesting.” – Zooboo