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
From the moment I learned of That’s Not What Happened‘s existence, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Even though I was a bit wary of Keplinger writing a book about a school shooting, I was still curious to see if she was going to be able to pull it off. Color me intrigued.
With a story about a school shooting, you immediately know that you’re in for a heavy read. Keplinger makes it even more harrowing and gut-wrenching as she talks about the aftermath instead of the shooting itself. And unsurprisingly, the six survivors are all dealing with trauma in their own way. Keplinger did the most amazing job of giving all six their own voice, character and experiences.
Sometimes it’s okay to believe things that aren’t true. Sometimes it’s necessary.
The moments that That’s Not What Happened gets the most difficult to take though, are the moments that Keplinger touches on things like gun control and the idolization of the shooter. Even though I live in Belgium and this kind of school shooting aftermath hasn’t traveled this far, I’m certain she incorporates true-life aspects here that survivors need to deal with every day. And it’s so disturbing to read.
Keplinger wrote the story of the survivors, how they need to find a way to deal with what happened while the outside world may not be forgiving for their choices or who they are. And this is what makes this novel so powerful. For once, we’re not talking about the shooter and why he (in this case) did what he did, it’s about the survivors who need to keep on living long after the story of the shooting stops being told.
That’s Not What Happened is one of those books that is not fun to read, but it’s so important that you read it. Keplinger truly delivered with this book and I will be recommending it to everyone who wants to hear it.
Have you read this book? If not, does it sound interesting to you? If yes, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Title: That’s Not What Happened
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publication date: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books