An investigation into the plague of violence engulfing a generation of American youth.
When Stephen Singular (The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion, 2011, etc.) and his wife, Joyce, set out to write a book about James Holmes, who in 2012, walked into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater where he killed 12 people and wounded another 58, they had no idea how little information about the case would be available to them. But they used the lack of accessible material as a starting point, with Aurora as the ever present backdrop rather than the sole subject. The spiral notebook of the title, a diary kept by Holmes, was presumed to hold the reasons behind the attack, but a court order kept it sealed from the public. With Holmes’ motives obscured, the Singulars went in search of answers by exploring the nationwide epidemic of mass shootings. They spent time talking to their own 20-something son before embarking on a quest to engage with millennials in conversations about the tragic commonality of school shootings and other violent acts. The result is a disturbing yet fascinating treatise on the impacts of growing up in a world that previous generations would barely recognize. While violent video games get their due, the authors also pinpoint widely prescribed drugs, the pressures of social media, a world at war, and more. What makes this book special is that for every theory they present, the Singulars reference not only experts in psychology, sociology, crime, and other fields, but also 20-somethings, whose opinions seem at once benign in their simplicity and also imbued with the ability to shatter the worlds of their peers. These acts may never be fully understood, but this work certainly helps the process along.
Tragic, gripping, and authentic, this book deserves a wide audience.