It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story–that she died proclaiming her faith. But it’s not true. I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a … are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did–and didn’t–happen that day.
Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .
its a really good book well i liked it i recommend it to any one who likes acction books
Three years ago a student brought a gun to Virgil County High School in which 9 students lost their lives. Lee lost her best friend Sarah and on that day, a lie came out about Sarah that wasn’t true. But she didn’t speak up and the lie spread like wildfire into the community. While one girl tried to correct it, Lee didn’t. Now, 3 years later, Sarah’s parents are releasing a book, and Lee wants to speak out about the lie. But no one believes her, it has gained too much strength to be believed as anything other than the truth. So Lee sets out to prove that Sarah wasn’t who people are saying she is. But her journey is revealing more about that day and the 6 survivors than she ever thought possible.
I thought the characters and the storyline were compelling, and while I didn’t agree with what Lee was doing, I could see her reasoning. I also appreciated that Lee suffered from PTSD and the author’s excellent portrayal of what us sufferers go through. It wasn’t until Lee asked the other survivors to write a letter to help her clear the air that I started to become invested in those characters and their stories. But it was a unique way to go into depth about who they were as people and what they had endured.
Clearly, this wasn’t going to be an easy story to read because it was such a tragedy, one that we face all the time in America. But I think it was brave of Keplinger to write about this, and I appreciate that they did. It was interesting in that it approaches the shooting in the past tense, and we learn about it through retrospect. Overall a good read.
Lee is one of the survivors of Virgil County High School’s Massacre three years ago. There have been many different accounts of what happened in there. But the stories are not true. Lee was there! The story about Sarah, the most well-known victim, is especially hard to listen to. She almost has a cult following now. But how does Lee, Sarah’s best friend, tell people what really happened in the school during the shooting?
My favorite aspect of this book is the very realistic and developed characters. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew these characters! In addition, this is a well-written book. I felt it was very creative how Ms Keplinger told this story.
This is one of the most inspiring books I’ve read, it’s really heartwarming and sad all at once.
I was lucky enough to grab a copy of this book at BookExpo since I was working at Kody Keplinger’s table, and what a good thing, too!
As anyone would expect, this book about the aftermath of a school shooting is intense. I was happy but not surprised when it made me reconsider how I think about the public suffering that survivors must endure, the trauma and damage that these shootings cause beyond the loss of life, and how stories are twisted to fit a narrative that is more comfortable to spectators. With a story of this heavy subject matter, I expected these things. What I didn’t expect, however, is how I would become genuinely invested in the characters and the story itself.
The plot follows Leanne “Lee” Bauer three years after she witnessed her best friend’s death in a school shooting. Since then, a story has spread about how Sarah died which the community has latched onto as a symbol of hope. However, Lee knows that the story isn’t true. Worried about the damage caused by the lie, as well the fact that she doesn’t want her friend remembered for something that didn’t happen, she sets out to reveal the truth, even though by doing so she risks ostracism and must relive some of the worst moments of her life.
The story is mostly told in the present day, with flashes to events in the past, various letters from other survivors recounting their experiences, and tributes from Lee and other characters to those who died in the shooting. I genuinely had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction – it felt so real, and unfortunately in today’s world, it practically is. I was really drawn in by Lee’s struggle to tell the truth and honor the people who died while also trying to protect herself.
Lee is the narrator and main character of this story. Her PTSD and fear was so difficult to read about, but I thought it felt so palpable and real. She would sometimes get frustrated that she couldn’t react to situations like other people and was stuck in this nihilist loop of fearing death while believing that nothing mattered. Although she was a pretty reserved character, she could be pushy and a bit self-absorbed when it came to the people around her, and I appreciated her character growth as she came to recognize this about herself and grow out of it. Also, wow, she was asexual!! Though that wasn’t hugely significant plot-wise, it impacted her character and her relationships with other people.
We also get to know the five other survivors of the shooting pretty well, especially Lee’s close friends Miles and Denny. Miles is Lee’s neighbor who hates to talk about his experience in the shooting, and Denny is a classmate who feels guilty that he experienced the shooting differently because he’s blind. I really loved the friendship between these three.
All the other survivors brought something new as well and made me think about the shooting in different way. Their various stories refused to allow a simple, straightforward narrative with one absolute truth. They constantly surprised me (and Lee) with their accounts.
The whole book is written like a confession to the reader – Lee often addresses the audience and refers to things that “you” should know about. This made it feel all the more realistic, since I kept thinking “oh yeah, of course I know about that,” even though the entire thing was fictional.
Other than that, I really enjoyed the writing. It felt like it was written by a bunch of teenagers, and not in a bad way – the language felt like actual language that teenagers would use.
This book felt all too relevant to today. In fact, the most unrealistic thing was that there weren’t really mentions of other shootings happening, when in reality they happen every few months these days because we live in the nightmare timeline.
Another thing: I really appreciated that the shooter was never named while all the victims were given at least a few pages of tribute. This book in no way glorified what he did, as we learn next to nothing about him and instead focus on the actual victims of his actions. Which, if you ask me, is how these things should be treated. I can tell this was a deliberate choice on the author’s part and I’m so grateful for it.
Genuinely I couldn’t get enough of this book and I flew through it in a single day and cried in several places. I really need everyone to read this and understand how I feel.
I don’t know what it is, whether it is because I am a school librarian, used to be a teacher, etc., or what, but I am drawn to YA books about school shootings. I like that the majority of them tend to have something unique about them, something besides just telling what is a horrible story like the news would. I’ve read stories where we get to know the shooter. I’ve read stories about the siblings of the shooters. This book had two things that I really liked. First, I like that not once did they actually say the name of the shooter. One thing the character said they did not want to do was give that person any more attention or recognition. The other thing that I really liked about this was the whole theme or maybe you’d say its plot. I like that this book was looking at what really happened. Not the stories that get passed on to the media, by people who don’t know what actually happened, or mistake what happened for something more inspiring or selfless than it may actually have been.
I always enjoy hearing the “real” story about historical events or people. You know, the things left out of textbooks, the things that don’t sound good, or the things that would mess up everyone’s love of a person or event if it was told. Those are the things that make people or events seem real to me. And this book does exactly that. It makes the people who survived real. Not saints, not SURVIVORS, but just real people, real kids. Even if one of the stories could possibly ruin another person’s epiphany they had that caused them to change their life and be happier ever since the shooting. Even if one of the stories makes the person who has to tell it worried others won’t look at him the same, that they’ll see him as a coward instead of the hero that the original story makes him out to be.
The book makes you think though, in the end, with a girl who has passed away, is it such a good thing to ruin the image that her family and countless others in the community may have now taken as something that can be salvaged from such a horrible event? I don’t know. That’s a hard one. But you have to also think about if that image, that story, has ruined the life of someone else who tried to tell the truth of that situation. In that case, it might have been good thing to not let the wrong story take on quite the life that it did.
Of course there are similarities to the real school shootings that have occurred. But I don’t feel that the author meant in any way to call into question those real people. I think she was just giving examples that would make the story seem real.
This was an intense story, a sad story, and even an inspirational story in its own way. One I recommend and will purchase for my school library.