My husband first noticed this book when we were at Target doing our weekly trip. After reading the synopsis I was hooked. In fact, I read it in three days because I didn’t want to put it down.
Leanne (Lee) and five other students survived an school shooting. While more than just those six were at the school, these are the students that were face to face with the shooter. Shortly after the shooting, Lee’s best friend Sarah, who was killed, has a rumor spread about her that she died defending her faith. However, Lee and another survivor were there and know that isn’t what happened.
Throughout the novel, you learn about each of the survivor’s recollections of that terrible day that defined their high school experience. In the three years following the tragedy, you see how each of them has coped or well lied to themselves about being okay.
You also see through Lee’s eyes what happens when you try to set the record straight, and people just don’t want to listen. Why? Because so many people want something to come out of such a meaningless attack. Like a young girl restoring and inspiring others to turn to God.
You can tell this story was written after well known tragedies like Columbine and Parkland. I read the book She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall back when I was a freshman in high school. Sarah’s story is eerily similar to that of Cassie Bernall. The other even mentioned conspiracy theories online about the survivors being paid crisis actors.
The whole book really got me thinking. How do you know which stories to believe when events like this happen? Do you wait to pay attention once all the dust has settled and the police have done their investigation? Do you just assume everyone is telling you the truth? Will anyone outside of the situation ever really know the full story of what happens?
The other portions of the book that jumped out at me were some quotes that I think are eye opening to recent events and how it affects kids.
“It only took me a second to know what I was hearing. The screams made it abundantly clear. In some ways, I had been expecting it. That sounds weird. But we’d been doing lockdown drills since I was in elementary school. I don’t remember a time when I truly believed school was safe.”That’s NOT What Happened by Kody Keplinger (pg 318)
Take a moment and let that quote sink in. The first time I had a lockdown drill at school was in the seventh grade. Everyone in my PE class thought it was a waste of time. Nothing like that would ever happen in suburban Alabama. Roughly six years later, it did. It wasn’t the typical mass shooting you hear about on the news, but one student was targeted and did lose his life. A week later, a faculty member at the local college took a gun to a staff meeting and fired at her colleagues. Three people lost their lives during that tragedy. My friend’s father was in the room and very lucky to have not been physically injured.
It’s hard to imagine that kids as young as kindergarten have to learn these drills just like fire and tornado drills. How did this become a regular part of life? Does this mean my future children won’t feel safe in their schools? Will I even feel okay sending them to school?
I highly recommend giving Keplinger’s book a read. It’s very thought provoking!