A school shooting survivor is determined to correct untrue stories about the tragic event.
Senior Leanne Bauer faces the third anniversary of the incident that took nine lives at rural Virgil County High School. Afterward, tales spread that her best friend, Sarah, defended her Christian faith before she was murdered, something eyewitness Lee knows to be untrue. However, Sarah’s religious family and the community at large embrace that story. When fellow survivor Denny asks Lee to read his college scholarship letter, she is inspired to ask the other eyewitnesses to write their stories too. One of the six, Kellie, has moved away, her family hounded when she insisted that the cross necklace found at the site actually belonged to her, not Sarah. Lee becomes convinced that she must get Kellie to participate if the project is to be complete. Echoing highly publicized tragedies, this taut, emotional story goes behind the headlines to reveal lives impacted by school violence. The characterizations are strong: Gay, Latinx Eden struggles with guilt over her difficult relationship with her murdered cousin. White, fervently Christian Ashley is a staunch supporter of the accepted narrative, while Miles, white and already troubled before, is even more withdrawn. Denny, African-American and blind, appears the most grounded, though readers only glimpse his backstory. White, working-class Lee is a nuanced and believable protagonist.
A timely page-turner that will resonate with readers. (Fiction. 12-18)