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.
"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
Chapters Through Life
Mom didn’t lie. She’s still there when I wake up. I turn my head and find her in the chair, chin slumped to her shoulder, mouth open as she sleeps. She looks old. Why have I never noticed? My mouth is dry again and I search around for the water. Ah, there it is. A whole jug of it, sitting next to the plastic cup with the kiddie straw in it. It’s right beside the bed, on some sort of low cabinet. I can reach it. At least, if I can make my body move, I can.
I’m not as foggy as I was the last time I woke up, so I’m confident I can do this simple chore. But first I need to sit up. I press my hands into the mattress and push myself upward. Sharp pain slices through my legs. I suck in air, gritting my teeth against it as I flop back into the pillows. Okay, so maybe sitting up isn’t going to be the piece of cake I thought. I guess I busted my legs in the crash.
I remember it now. The light, the car skidding out of control, the voices and confused thoughts. I crashed the car. That’s why I’m here. I wonder if the car’s redeemable at all. It’s a piece of crap, but it’s my piece of crap. I might insult it several times a day, but I love it. I hope it’s not wrecked beyond repair.
My eyes creep toward the water again. I’m so thirsty. I have to have a drink. It’s so close. All I need to do is reach out and shake Mom’s knee and I’m sure she’ll hand me the cup, but she looks so exhausted. I should let her sleep.
Steeling myself for the pain, I try rolling onto my side. It hurts like hell, but I manage it. Various tubes and wires connected to me tug at my skin, but I ignore it. Yeah! Chalk one up for Ozzy. What a hero, he can roll over in bed. From there, I try pushing myself up with my arms and into a sitting position. I gasp at the glassy pain, but this time I don’t give up. I wind up on my butt. From there I’m pretty sure I can lean over and reach the water. I fix my eyes on the prize, measuring the distance. It’s not far. I can do this. Stretching out my arm, I reach for it. When my fingers close around the cup, I feel an absurd sense of accomplishment. I sit back, clutching the cup, surprised to discover I’m breathing heavily. Damn, I must be out of shape. Already. I’m going to have to get back into the pool as soon as I can. Otherwise I have no shot at Nationals.
I drink deeply, gulping down the cool water. I’ve never known water to taste this good. This is what it must be like for people who get lost in the desert when they’re found. When the cup is empty, I let it drop. It bounces across the bed. I expect it to stop, its progress to be barricaded by my legs, but it keeps going, rolling to the opposite side and tumbling from the edge.
What the fuck?
I sit up straighter and stare down the length of the bed, seeing the way the sheets and blanket lie flat against the mattress, undisturbed by the mounds of my legs and feet. I stare at the smooth bedclothes. I don’t get it. What is going on here? I’m dreaming. That’s got to be it. This is some full-on fucking nightmare and I’ll wake up soon. But I don’t feel like I’m dreaming.
Where are my legs?