Alternating narrators tell the story of a day in April when school shootings coordinated in an internet forum occur in various locations across the country.
Distinctive voices slowly piece together the details of a variety of characters' stories, rather like 18-year-old April's Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, which enables her to remember with photographic precision her childhood friendship with a boy named Lincoln before he moved away after his father died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, teenage Lincoln also takes a turn, relating his odd relationship with Laura Echols, beautiful but remote, and how their fates intertwine with their thoughtful, Glass Menagerie–assigning English teacher, who fears one of her students may be planning an act of violence. Both the emotionally awkward mastermind of the shooting plot and those hiding from active shooters at their schools also share their perspectives in accounts that are poignant and realistic. The sheer number of narrators means that readers will need to pay close attention in order to understand how the various strands link together, but lovely writing, replete with literary references, will spur them on. There is some ethnic diversity—while characters such as Phoebe, Laura, and Adrian appear to be white, Gavin is described as having brown skin and green eyes, Gina's last name is Morales, and Pal is Indian-American.
A worthwhile, chilling novel that makes demands of its audience and rewards them richly in return. (Fiction. 14-18)