Bibliographic info: Give a Boy a Gun. Todd Strasser. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Adults, 2012. $16.00. 146p. ISBN-13: 978-0689811128.
Summary: Brendan and Gary are being bullied and teased by the jocks at their school. Finally one day they decide they are fed up with the situation and decide to take matters into their own hand. One day they stealing a set of guns from their neighbors and take them to school where they hold their classmates hostage. During the hostage situation Brendan and Gary decide that the only thing that matters to them is revenge on the people who have wronged them.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 12 and up
Review: This harrowing fictitious documentary is told through the view-point of many people in Gary and Brendan’s lives, teachers, students, friends, family, etc. It is put together as if the story was taken from different newspaper clippings and interviews of what was witnessed. It creates an atmosphere that appears realistic while reading. And in a way the story is true, even in its fiction. The characters are incredibly believable and you can see the development of Gary and Brendan from passively aggressive to actively aggressive boys. The story is hard to take in and shocking while reading, but you can’t deny the true of it. Strasser did his research when writing this tale. He has given us a reason to think hard about gun control and safety. This book should be read not just by children, but adults too.
Readers’ annotation: With stolen guns in hand and a room full of hostages Brendan and Gary decide that revenge is the only thing that matters to them.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book would be a great source for children who are struggling with bullying and want a solution but don’t know what that may be yet. After reading this book, they will understand that the use of guns is not the answer and they way that Gary and Brendan handled their situation could have been handled differently. I think that having a look at the thoughts and feelings of the people around Gary and Brendan will show readers that there are people who care and want to be able to help. Murder and suicide are not the answers.
Issues present: There is violence, school shooting, gun use, suicide and bullying by jocks. Although, it is a great source for gun control and safety. Everything written in this book rings with truth and people cannot deny the true. Sometime a real shocking book like Give a Boy a Gun is a good way to get people to understand what is happening in their school and there are ways to prevent such situations. Parents and teachers especially will benefit from reading this book.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce and describe Brendan and Gary.
P 93 Gary’s suicide note – very telling of the character.
P 107 Brendan’s suicide note
Genre or subject: realistic fiction: school shootings, bullying
Readalikes: Endgame, Hate List, Leverage, Friday Night Lights, Making a Killing, and Lethal Passage.
Author’s website: http://toddstrasser.com/wordpress/ ; http://www.toddstrasser.com/index.html
Awards: American Library Association ALA Popular Paperbacks For Young Adults; New York State Charlotte Award winner; Rhode Island Teen Book Award Winner; Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Award Master List; Washington Irving Children’s Choice Book Award (New York); Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Master List; Kansas Ten Selection for Middle School/Junior High (Kansas State Reading Circle); Top Shelf Fiction for Middle Schoolers (Voice Of Youth Advocates)
Reviews: Kirkus review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/todd-strasser/give-a-boy-a-gun/; Boolist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Give-a-Boy-a-Gun-Todd-Strasser/pid=5462454
Why I chose it: I found the idea of a school shooting as well as a hostage situation interesting. Also, the title really stands out and catches your attention, or at least it did mine.