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That's Not What Happened
Cover of That's Not What Happened
That's Not What Happened
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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 . . .

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 . . .

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  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.0
  • Lexile:
    720
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3

Recommended for you

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2018
    A school shooting survivor is determined to correct untrue stories about the tragic event.Senior Leanne Bauer faces the third anniversary of the incident that took nine lives at rural Virgil County High School. Afterward, tales spread that her best friend, Sarah, defended her Christian faith before she was murdered, something eyewitness Lee knows to be untrue. However, Sarah's religious family and the community at large embrace that story. When fellow survivor Denny asks Lee to read his college scholarship letter, she is inspired to ask the other eyewitnesses to write their stories too. One of the six, Kellie, has moved away, her family hounded when she insisted that the cross necklace found at the site actually belonged to her, not Sarah. Lee becomes convinced that she must get Kellie to participate if the project is to be complete. Echoing highly publicized tragedies, this taut, emotional story goes behind the headlines to reveal lives impacted by school violence. The characterizations are strong: Gay, Latinx Eden struggles with guilt over her difficult relationship with her murdered cousin. White, fervently Christian Ashley is a staunch supporter of the accepted narrative, while Miles, white and already troubled before, is even more withdrawn. Denny, African-American and blind, appears the most grounded, though readers only glimpse his backstory. White, working-class Lee is a nuanced and believable protagonist.A timely page-turner that will resonate with readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2018

    Gr 8 Up-Three years ago, the students of Virgil County High School experienced the unthinkable: a mass school shooting. Now, the survivors are writing letters about their experiences that day, how it affected them afterwards, and their relationships to the victims. One of the victims, Sarah McHale, is known around the world as the Girl with the Cross Necklace, who died defending her faith. As her family prepares to write a book about her and her last proclamation, Lee-the protagonist and Sarah's best friend-feels that she needs to speak up and reveal the truth about Sarah. In a time where mass shootings have been all too common, this story gives a voice to the victims and survivors, all while avoiding mention of the shooter's name. Keplinger is known for her relatable characters and realistic teen voices and this work is no exception. The book includes a blind character, a wheelchair user, and an asexual character. This title adeptly explores how the truth can be different for people who suffered the same tragedy. VERDICT A timely, thought-provoking read that would be a worthy addition to all high school libraries; for fans of Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson.-Morgan O'Reilly, Riverdale Country School, NY

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 4, 2018
    As the anniversary of the school shooting that killed eight people, including her best friend, approaches, Leeann is anxious and sad. She’s also angry—not just at the shooter, but at the people who turned Sarah into a martyr whose dying thought was of faith, and at herself for not clearing things up sooner. Searching for the truth, Leeann asks the other five students who were in the shooter’s range, four of whom have become her closest friends, to tell their stories, and their narratives are folded into the book. The fifth survivor has left town, but Leeann tracks her down. As the truths mount up and displace each other, the survivors must come to terms with what they did and didn’t do that day, and how different that may be from what people think happened. Keplinger (The DUFF) effectively conveys how the stories they’ve told and have been told about the shooting have shaped each survivor’s sense of who they are. The result is an original and engrossing narrative about scars, recovery, and how the stories we tell can both sustain and hobble us. Ages 12–up. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House.

  • DOGO Books catpath13 - This book was an interesting look at the importance of religion and community after a tragedy. It is a great book about the current issues with school shootings and it also includes LGBTQ+ characters and a muted romantic story line.
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    Scholastic Inc.
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That's Not What Happened
Kody Keplinger
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