What becomes of the families of school shooters once judgments are passed and the perpetrators are either dead or convicted and imprisoned? What happens when innocent family members end up sharing blame for the event? Can families be faulted by association for something of which they had no forewarning?
This interesting and suspenseful story of a high school girl, Skye Gilchrist, returning after a three-year absence to her previous hometown where her brother Luka was a participant in a shooting at North Hampton High that killed four students, covers all those bases. Her aunt, taking over guardianship of Skye after Gran has a stroke and Skye’s mom can’t cope, tells Skye that it’s time to confront the past and move forward, that people are more understanding and forgiving than she thinks, that she can find the strength to start fresh—all those things adults say that usually hold no truth for teenagers. Indeed, Skye finds out immediately that a lot of people resent her return to town and still hold her responsible in part for what her brother did. Even her old friend/boyfriend Jesse seems to feel that way. As if that weren’t enough, bizarre happenings such as overheard conversations when no one seems to be present, mysterious typewritten messages stuffed in her locker, and burning papers shoved under the door of the journalism office where she is working all contribute to her sense of unease and confusion as to what really happened the day of the shooting. As she works through the clues and the evidence she uncovers, she resumes her lost friendships with some classmates and reignites her romance with Jesse.
This 369-page book never lags. It’s got currency. It’s well-written, though some of the characters (like the assistant principal and a few of the police officers) are painted a little too broadly. The ending is packed with a (maybe) surprising and satisfying revelation.
In the book there is, of course, violence. Bullying. Gang threats. Fisticuffs. No sex other than a few vulgar comments by some thugs. The flagged language is not prolific and consists of the usual (for YA novels) bitch, asshole, damn, that kind of stuff.
Every middle and high school library needs this book on its shelves.
Categories: Books We Recommend, Controversial YA Topics, Crime, Death and Grieving, Depression, Dysfunctional Relationships, Grief, Mental Health, Navigating through High School, Peer Relationships, School Shootings, Violence