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Publisher: Harper Tempest / HarperCollins
Release Date: August 1, 2003
ISBN: 0066239621
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre:   Teen/YA - Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Elizabeth Bird
Reviewer Notes:  Explicit language - Some violence

Inside Out
By Terry Trueman

     Young adult books in which the protagonist suffers from serious mental problems aren’t particularly new. But in the past few years, books of this nature have flooded the market. Some of these are awful and some of these are amazing. Bestselling, “The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon is one of these brilliant books. So too is Terry Trueman’s less well-known but no less remarkable, “Inside Out”.

     Zach suspects that things might not be going well when two armed teens burst into the coffee shop where he is waiting for his mother. When their attempted hold-up goes wrong, the teens take everyone in the shop hostage, including the confused Zach. What the robbers don’t realize is that Zach suffers from paranoid adolescent schizophrenia. This condition has left the boy, even with proper medication, in a state of never really knowing the motivations behind other people’s emotions and actions. It also means that if he doesn’t get his medicine on time, two of his worst mental projections, Dirtbag and Rat, may come and torment him to the point of suicide. And time is running out…

    The book gives itself entirely over to Zach’s narrative with occasional selections from his doctor’s reports and his mother’s point of view. There’s also a running nonsensical string of words (words that Zach is perpetually hearing in his head, even with his medication) that appears at the bottom of almost every other page. This gives the reader a better understanding of the trials and tortures Zach must endure daily. He’s a fairly emotionless young man, so his interpretations of his fellow human beings are sometimes unintentionally humorous. That doesn’t mean that you ever feel inclined to laugh at Zach’s condition, though. Trueman expertly weaves the action in his story in such a way that you respect the book’s hero immensely by the finish. “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.