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 a single look at him, Ozzy knows he’s a hideous freak. He becomes convinced he’s blown any chance of finding love, a girlfriend or ever 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.
The story begins with Ozzy planning his first intimate outing with his girlfriend, Lainey. The outing goes array and as Ozzy is driving home he gets into a devastating car accident.
‘Stumped’ has a unique take on someone dealing with a disability. Some of the issues Ozzy goes through is truly eye-opening. One of the biggest obstacles he has to overcome is the way others treat him. Some people in his life are really terrible to him, like his girlfriend and friends. The story left me wondering if it is because they are teenagers and they don’t know what to say and how to act or if is it just that the characters are terrible people. Ozzie then learns to find comfort from a support group for teenage amputees.
Since Ozzy is a teenage boy his sex drive takes on a life of its own. One of the main focuses in the story is Ozzy’s interaction with sex workers. ‘Stumped’ takes place in New Zealand and prostitution is legal there ( New Zealand handles prostitution very differently from the way it is in the US). This part of Ozzy’s story and how the brothels and prostitution work in New Zealand is one of the most fascinating aspects of the story.
Ozzy’s relationship with fellow amputee, Melinda, is the most touching part of the novel. As their relationship grows Ozzy’s ability to look outside himself also grows. He learned to not feel so sorry for his situation and that there are others worse off than himself. He also learned that there is more to relationships then just the physical aspects.
‘Stumped’ is gritty at times. I enjoyed the raw truth and emotion behind Ozzy’s experience. It is also in-depth look into the experience of devastating physical injury.