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

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Title: That’s Not What Happened
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Pages: 384 pages
Publication Date: 28th August 2018
Rating:  3.5 Stars

Summary

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 . . .

Disclaimer

I received an uncorrected advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. This has not influenced my opinions, or the content of this review in any way.

Trigger/Content Warnings

This book is about a school shooting and it’s aftermath, death, gun violence, panic attacks, vomit, threatening behaviour.

My Thoughts

The first thing I want to say about this book, is that I found it to be a very emotional read. This is not a bad thing, not at all. In fact, I think it needs to be that way, because of the subject matter, and everything that the characters have been through. In case you didn’t already know, this book deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. While the main story takes place a few years after the incident, the characters are all still very effected by it, and are all trying to cope the best they can.

Most of the book is written in the form of a letter from our main character, Lee, who want’s to set the story straight about the school shooting she survived. It’s her response to the way the media portrays the shooting, the victims and survivors, and at the same time it shows her coping with the unimaginable trauma of watching her best friend die.  This writing style works really well for the story, and allows for the narrative to cover multiple time periods and perspectives.

Lee is a very flawed and real main character, she’s really well-developed, and by the end of the book, I felt like I really knew her. She was fourteen when the shooting happened, and still experiences panic attacks because of what she went through. She is also asexual, and mentions what that identity means for her, it feels very real to me, and honestly means a lot to see that side of myself in a book. I personally related to this aspect of her character a lot, there was a number of moments in this book that made me feel so seen and validated.

Overall, at times I found this book difficult to read because of the heavy subject matter, but I’m so glad that I did. The story and exploration of the themes was worth it, and I really liked the writing style.

Want to chat, about books or anything else, here are some other places you can find me:

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