August 28, 2018

Review: That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger!

That’s Not What Happened
Author: Kody Keplinger
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2018 
by Scholastic Press

It's been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah's story--that she died proclaiming her faith.

But it's not true.

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn't say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah's parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I'm not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did--and didn't--happen that day.

Except Sarah's martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don't take kindly to what I'm trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what's right. I don't know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .

Kody has also authored: ​The Duff, Lying Out Loud, Run, Shut Out, A Midsummer’s Nightmare What is the newest publicized problem facing our youth today? Have you been watching the news? Aside from rampant drug use our youth must worry about whether or not they will be safe when they go to school every morning, this due to recent increases in mass shootings.

When I picked up this book I thought what an ironic time to read a book like this, it being so close to what happened in Florida and all. Kody writes in the first person, as the main character Lee (or Leanne) as she tries to recount the events as they unfolded the day of the shooting in the small town school. She lost her best friend during the tragedy and finds a discrepancy that she feels must be corrected before it is too late so she enlists the help of the other survivors and starts to write down the events as they unfolded through their eyes.

While she is moving through the aftermath of the events, she battles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

She continues to build stronger bonds and realizes things about herself and others that she may not have realized before, that are making her think differently. However, she must be careful with what she is doing because it could cost her relationships that she has had since she was young.

Some things to consider about this book, although this topic has affected students as young as kindergarten, I do not believe 12 years old is an appropriate starting age for this book, nor is 7th grade. I think it would be better suited to start at 15 years old and 9th grade. A child’s ability to comprehend the material contained in this book may be a little more than they may be able to handle in a maturity manner. Some things that I like about this book; I have noticed that although the survivors were not close prior to the event, they have been able to build a bond and grow closer after being there for one another should they need someone close to talk to, someone who has been there. They are also using their experiences to tell a new story about how the event unfolded. With this they are hoping that they will leave a lasting story, the truth to go with the names that are left on the wall of the fallen victims and also to stomp out any rumors after they leave the school in the spring.

Some dislikes of the book; I found that the story would drag in some spots in the beginning of the book as the author tried to explain each of the characters, I felt like she dragged on when explaining their features or personalities. This made it difficult to continue reading but I wanted to know what the real story was so I pushed on. I also found that the story does not stay in a continuous time flow; for instance, the author could tell the story of the event letting the readers know about the students (survivors) as far as what year they were in and what time of the school year it was, etc. and then bring us to present day but also telling us how long it has been since the event happened because I am not finding it to be clear, I feel that it could be months or years but I am never sure.

This is a quick read if you have the time to sit and focus, it is not a self-help book by any means, I saw that the author explained a real life situation of her own and also her reasoning as why she thought to write this, which was my reasoning for reading it.



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