Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.
Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.
I find that this book gave an extraordinary view on the pain and suffering of the shooter’s family. This painful event is traumatizing to the family as they were constantly being blamed for the actions of the shooter as others who were affected had no one else to point the fingers at. The lack of reason for Luke’s action with them constantly putting the blame on themselves was tearing the family apart. The constant ‘What IF’ on their minds were just making it difficult for the family to heal from the tragic event.
Alys post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was vivid and empathetic for the readers to feel what she was going through. She was not only Luke siblings that others constantly put the blame on but also a victim that was in the Library when the shooting happened. It was intriguing from the beginning and the author did a fantastic job for ending it all with hope for the character.
However, I felt that Alsy’s father, Paul, did not managed to handle the entire situation well compared to the rest. It is understandable for him to feel lost and in rage for what happened but leaving the family to get some clarity while they suffered did not showed a great sense of parenting. They were all suffering the wrath from others as well as the sense of loss and kept in the dark for his beloved son’s traumatic actions. However, it does not justify his actions of leaving them just to peace his mind.
I find that this book told a story from the family point of view and it was difficult to convey to readers the intriguing and the heartfelt that the family felt. The writer had the managed to open up the readers to the new profound possibility that many could not understand with her level of intense raw emotions. The flow of the book with characters that showed great amount of behaviours allow me to love the book even more.