Leanne lost her best friend Sarah three years ago after she was killed in the Virgil County High School Massacre. Everyone knows how Sarah died, in the school bathroom whilst proclaiming her faith. But that’s not what happened. Leanne was with Sarah when she died but didn’t say anything about what really happened that day. Now that Sarah’s parents are publishing a book all about Sarah, Leanne wants to set the record straight.
I picked this book up whilst I was in the middle of a reading slump and felt like I needed something that was hard-hitting to get me out of my slump. This book was just that.
School shootings are a thing that we see all too much of in our day-to-day lives. I never want to know what it is like to be a victim or a survivor of a school shooting. This book certainly gives you an idea about what it is like. It shows that a school shooting doesn’t just affect the survivors but also their parents and the town. It’s about how trauma can still affect people years down the line. It’s about how trauma has the ability to bind people together. Most importantly it’s about how the truth isn’t always as it seems.
I liked that the shooters name isn’t mentioned once in the books. It is just about the victims, which isn’t what you get when you are watching the news after a school shooting.
The format of this book worked excellently. The whole book is formatted as a letter from Leanne. It also contains letters from other survivors of the shooting and character studies about the victims.
I thought all the characters were incredibly developed and all brought their own things to the story. There is also asexual representation in this book. Leanne’s asexuality isn’t the centre of the book, but she is still given respect. Leanne gets the chance to explain what asexuality means to her and this isn’t minimised by its surrounding story.
One thing I learn’t about this book after finishing it is, that it is actually based on a true story. Sarah’s story is based on Cassie Bernal, a girl who was reported to profess her faith before being shot at Columbine. This isn’t mentioned at the start or end of the book that it is based on a real story but I wish it had been.
Overall, this book was extremely eye-opening and I will be making sure it is in so many more people’s hands. I will be recommending this book for a long time, it is extraordinary and needs a lot of attention.