That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Overview
Image result for book cover that's not what happened

Title: That’s Not What Happened
Author: Kody Keplinger
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 25th February – 6th March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: She was young, only twenty-three, and very pretty with golden-blonde hair that fell in loose waves to her shoulders.

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Synopsis

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School shooting. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall. Everyone knows Sarah’s story.

But it’s not true.

I know because I was there when she died. 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.

And the fake Sarah story is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. The more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up …

Thoughts

This is a seriously intense book. Wicked, brilliant. But fairly intense. Mostly because of the subject matter that it deals with – school shootings in America. I finished this. Put it aside, and then just said “WOW”. There are no other words for it…. Just…. Wow.

I’ve always been grateful / happy to be an Aussie. And this kind of just completely drove that home. Partly because in all of my school days we had TWO lockdown drills. And that was it. Actually, we had more bushfire drills than lockdown drills. There have been no mass shootings since 1996 (since before I even went to school). And then reading a story which features the survivors of such a thing… the pain, the horror…. I just can’t imagine it. And for that I’m glad.

I’m not a huge fan of the media, never really have been. And I’m honestly banned from watching the news when anybody else is around because I frequently yell at the TV… very loudly. Which meant it was really interesting reading a book which featured the ways in which the media gets it wrong. And the consequences of that. The different stories that can come out of one moment… regardless of how and why they started, but everyone has their own story – one which might not necessarily agree with others. But everyone’s story does deserve to be heard. At least, that was the strong, very strong message I got from this. It started out being driven by the truth, and then it started to be more about the loss of a voice in the frenzy of the media.

Although it wasn’t a driving factor of the storyline, I really liked that this story had an asexual lead. Other than Sherlock Holmes, I haven’t had the privilege of this kind of character. And even in Sherlock, it’s not out and out admitted. This is completely out in the open, honest and realistic as to the experience. Yet, there isn’t a big deal made out of it – it’s just an aspect of this character that you come to love and treasure.

If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t be able to put this down. It is intriguing, engaging and absolutely soul wrenching. Yet, there is a lightness and relatability to it that I really wasn’t expecting for this subject matter. I also loved that it was written in a slightly different format to most of the novels that I read. A format that really told the story brilliantly.

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Image source: Pan Macmillan South Africa

Book Review

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