Review: Stopped Cold by Gail Pallotta
Margaret (or Maggie as she’s known to some) has a footballer brother, Sean. Their father pressures him to perform well. Nothing pleases their father more than a win and he gets terribly disappointed if his son doesn’t perform up to his standards. One day, Sean gets a stroke and becomes unresponsive. To their shock, they discover that steroids was the cause of the stroke. Filled with anger over Sean’s condition, Maggie goes on a hate-fueled investigation to find the culprits behind the sale of the steroids. Her investigation leads her to dangerous places where shady characters hangout.
Stopped Cold is a simple story, despite the mystery storyline. It is a coming of age story. As we read, we see the characters making choices that will determine how they choose to live their lives. Most of the story paints Maggie’s struggle. She wants to make the drug dealers pay and is willing to brave dangerous circumstances to see that through.
Try as hard as I could, I just couldn’t like Maggie’s character. Some of the choices she made were not only dangerous, but also irresponsible. It is easy to sympathize with her and I did sympathize with her, but I finished reading the story knowing that she definitely isn’t anywhere near being a favorite character. Her friends, Jimmy and Emily, were definitely good influences on her. If I had to choose a favorite character, it would either be Jimmy or Emily. Sean’s character wasn’t as fully developed as theirs were, probably because he was lying in the hospital bed unresponsive for most of the book.
It was such a pity that right up the end, Maggie still felt the pressure to be a winner. It’s fine that her father wants a winner, but apparently, he didn’t learn his lesson when Sean got the stroke. It’s okay not to have winners in the family. Winning and losing is part of life. Yes, Maggie should be performing to win during the swim meet qualifiers, but her motives were somewhat off-the-mark. Her father should be proud of her, whether she wins or lose, and she shouldn’t be feeling the need to win because she couldn’t bear the disappointment of being the winner in the family for her father. Call me harsh, but while I was reading the pages about the qualifiers, I even found myself hoping that she would lose.
On a side note, as I write this review, I’m still trying to figure how the title of the book relates to the story. Right now, my only guesses is that it describes Seth’s condition, ie. he was “stopped cold” by what he took, or it describes Maggie’s life being “stopped cold” suddenly by her brother’s condition and the shocking trigger of it.
By reading the book, it could be easy to get away with the impression that steroids are bad, evil. However, that isn’t true. There are legal steroids and not all sellers of steroids are drug dealers. I checked the steroid used by Sean, Winstrol V, and was surprised the find out that it is a legal drug. It is also known as Stanozolol and has been approved by the FDA for human use. Reading the story, I had thought that Winstrol V is an illegal drug. I am glad I checked it out or I would have drawn the wrong conclusions.
Conclusion: Readers can definitely learn a lot of lessons from the choices made by the characters. If you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories, then you would like Stopped Cold. I came away from reading the book with mixed feelings. There are some good things to get from it, but right now, I think I’ll stick to books with more mature characters. Getting irritated with characters in a book is not something I like to do often.
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta is a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Visit her website at www.gailpallotta.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author through The Book Club Network review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”