Category Archives: School shootings

Books that show the affects and aftereffects of school shootings.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

Bibliographic information: Hate List. Jennifer Brown. Little, Brown and Co, 2009. $16.99. 408p. ISBN-13:  9780316041447.
Summary: Valerie created a Hate List. On the Hate List was the names of all the thing she disliked: people, homework projects, situations, etc. Her boyfriend, Nick decided to help with the Hate List and added the things he hated to it as well. After meeting a new friend, Nick started acting weird and decided to take action to end some of the things he hated with a gun. Valerie was just as surprised as everybody else and to stop Nick from hurting anybody else she threw herself on top of him and, consequently, was shot in the leg. He proceeded to shoot himself in the head. Now that school has started up again and Valerie must go back, she is apprehensive about the reaction she is going to get from her fellow classmates since some see her as a suspect int he shooting, some as a victim, and some as a hero.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: age 15 and up
Review: This riveting title will hook you from page one and move you to tears. This story is heart-breakingly sad, but has just the right amount of hope thrown in to keep the reader interested. Brown has captured the tragedy of a school shooting accurately and well. Written in the first person view-point of our protagonist, Valerie, this book jumps from the present to the past and is sprinkled with article clippings to add to the real-life effect. The characters are real and young adults will be able to relate to both the characters and the situation. Highly recommended to parents, teachers, and students alike.
Readers’ annotation: The Hate List has the names of everything and everybody that Valerie hated. Her boyfriend decided to bring a gun to school to end some of those names.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book will be able to lend support for any young adult who went through a similar situation. They will know that they are not alone. Even if somebody did not directly go through the same situation, teens will be able to use this book as a tool to show them the effects of bullying and how much others are hurt by it.
Issues present: There is a school shooting that takes place in this novel and people might object to it because they do not want young adults to read this book and either be afraid that it could happen to them or be exposed to the violent nature of it and get any ideas about duplicating the situation. However, people need to realize that this is a very real situation and it will help teens better understand such issues, it will not encourage them to take such actions. The message of the book is pretty clean that shooting up a school is not the way to solve your problems.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Valerie’s character.
Pg. 97 to end of first paragraph on 98. – describes start of shooting.
Pg. 103 starting with “Oh my God, I thought…” to end of first paragraph on 104. – describes Valerie’s heroics.
Passages from pages 97-105 – describes the shooting.
Genre or subject:Realistic fiction: school shooting, death
Readalikes: Give a Boy a Gun, Endgame, Shooter, Just Another Hero
Author’s website: http://www.jenniferbrownya.com/
Awards: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award (2010), The White Ravens (2010), Voya Perfect Ten (2009), ALA Best Books for Young Adults. for Young Adults Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Louisiana Teen Readers Choice Award, Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award (2012)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Hate-List-Jennifer-Brown/pid=3646354; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-1898884.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-316-04144-7; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jennifer-brown/hate-list/
Why I chose it: I was still in grade school when the Columbine school shooting happened and I thought it would be interesting to read about a school shooting.

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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, Death, School shootings, self-harm, Toxic parents and teachers

Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

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.

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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, School shootings

Endgame by Nancy Garden

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Bibliographic information: Endgame. Nancy Garden. Harcourt, 2006. $16.99. 287p. ISBN-10:  0152054162.
Summary: Gray Wilton wanted a new life, a start over, for things to get better. He was tired of being bullied and picked on for reasons he could not understand. He was finally given a fresh start at a new school, but things quickly turn for the worst and it soon looks like things are not going to get better for Gray. Even though nobody knows him or anything about him, he is still picked on, by none other than the star football players that could do no wrong. Incident after incident, and Gray still holds on and thinks things will get better, until the bullies take it one step too far and causes Gray to finally reached his breaking point.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 8th grade and up
Review: Uniquely written through the view-point of our main character Gray Wilton while he is telling his side of the story to his lawyer of what led to him killing several students at his school. Reading the story is like listening to a tape recording of his account. There are breaks in between his recounting where the lawyer asks him a question or you can “hear” the lawyer trying to sooth Gray when he become agitated. This adds great effect to the story. Throughout Gray’s testimony it’s not hard to feel for him and understand how he could have snapped. There is deep emotions spattered throughout the book that will keep you enthralled while also making you want to weep for the boy. Parent, teachers, and children alike should read this story so that they can better understand what bullying and negligence could do to a child.
Readers’ annotation: Sitting inside his cell, all Gray can see is hexagons. Six sides to a hexagon: son, brother, friend, archer, drummer, … murderer… Are these what make up Gray?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book has many angles to it. It mainly covers bullying, that leads to a school shooting. But it also touches on abusive or neglectful parents and teachers. It would be a great book for someone who is being bullied and to understand that they are not the only ones who feel the way they do. Sometimes other people feel the urge to kill somebody else, too, but that does not make it a good idea. There are consequences, and it is best to talk to somebody about your problem, usually an adult.
Issues present: There is bullying, violence in the form of a school shooting, gun use, and abusive or neglectful parents and teachers. All of these things might make a parent or teacher not want their children to read this book, but it could be useful to somebody who it being bullied. They might read this book and think, “Oh, I’m not the only one being bullied.” They will be able to take the other kids situation and deduce that how Gray handled the situation was not the best way to go about it.
Booktalk ideas: Pg. 4: “Losers. Six sides to a hexagon…” till end of page. – Explains main character
Pg. 264: “Bells ring and I can hear kids going back and forth to classes…” to end of paragraph. – Good section that tells the climax of the story.
It’s a new town, a new school, and a new start for Gray, everything is going to be better this time. Or so Gray seems to think…
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction, bullying, abuse/negligence, school shootings.
Readalikes: Leverage by Cohen, Raider’s Night by Lipsyte, Hate List by Brown, Give a Boy a Gun by Strasser.
Author’s website: http://www.nancygarden.com/index.html
Awards and lists: A School Library Journal Best Book of 2006; a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, 2007.
Links to reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6332044.html
Why I chose it: I had never read anything about a school shooting before and thought that it would be interesting because I have always been interested in books about murders, by Anne Rule. This book seemed like it would hold some of the same appeal as Anne Rule does for me, but instead be fiction.

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Filed under Bullying, School shootings