10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.
Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
12.5 minutes is the average length of a school shooting. Run if you can, hide if you need to, fight only if you must to save your life. Barricade doors to keep out the shooter. Every minute you distract the shooter allows other to get to safety. Close the door, stay silent. We will try to keep you safe.
I'm a middle school teacher. School shootings are a painful reality that we face every day. Even if it hasn't happened in our school or in our town yet our students see it on the news, they are afraid and they want to talk about it. As teachers we go through active shooter training, we plan out what we will do if it happens to us. We are painfully realistic about the fact that if it does happen, the likelihood that we all make it out alive is small. That some of us will die, that some of our students will die. We talk about what our job is as educators, that it's not just to impart knowledge, but also to protect the children that come through our doors. We know that if it came down to it we'd do what we had to to save as many of them as we can, because if it was our child in their school, we'd hope that their teachers would do the same to get our kids home safely. These are hard conversations, and they happen over and over again, and they will continue to happen so long as school shootings continue to happen.
Which brings me to this book. I was hesitant to read this book at first, I wasn't sure how this topic was going to be handled. Overall, Nijkamp did a really good job. Told over the course of almost an hour we get the perspectives of multiple players as they fill in the blanks as to who the shooter is and what his motivation is. People are scared and try to run and hide, and there are also those who step forward to try and end the shooting and save other people's lives. The strands of the story slowly come together as the main players react and make their decisions as they face the reality that their school is under attack. In the end no one is left unscathed, but there seems to be a sense that everyone left standing will eventually be okay. Because they'll have to be. In the aftermath of this sort of trauma you find a way to move forward, and Nijkamp has created a story where you know these characters will never be the same, but that they just might be okay someday.
Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition.
Both heartbreaking and funny, Crazy lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.
Admittedly I struggled to get into this book at the start, it was less the story and more the format. The imaginary friends that Jason creates to cope with the stress in his life are presented kind of like a script, injecting thoughts into various scenarios. I've had issues with this format before, so it's not surprising that this was a hard sell at the start for me. However, the story itself was enough to keep me going.
Jason is doing everything he can to keep his life on track, but he's also a scared kid who doesn't know how to keep his father safe, and he's terrified that the mental illness that is plaguing his father might also be something he has. He's afraid to ask for help, afraid to let anyone in, but he also knows that he can't do this all by himself. Enter a support group from school that allows Jason to not only get some help for his father from people who understand that life is far from perfect, but also create some bonds that give him the support he so desperately needs to let go of his imaginary friends and start living life honestly.
This is a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story about life's road bumps and finding your tribe who will help you get through the hard times.
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?
I loved this book. So incredibly much. This was another one that showed up in my mailbox from Uppercase Box. Quick side note, they say that you shouldn't judge a book by the cover, but that's a big lie. People do pick books up based on the cover, a great cover can draw in readers, make them grab your book over others. A bad cover can turn people away from an otherwise great book. So covers are important. Different covers can do different things for different readers. This cover is spot on for me. I would live outside, cooking over a campfire if I could figure out how to get paid for it. I'm also a sucker for a good YA Romance novel. So this cover 100% did it's job and as soon as I opened my mail, it jumped to the top of the TBR pile.
This book didn't disappoint, in fact it went way past expectations. I initially went into this book expecting a fluffy summer YA story, but what I got instead was a story about two families who are trying to find their way back to something resembling happy. I don't want to give anything away. I want you to go read this book, so I'm going to keep this incredibly broad (sorry!). Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends, until one night changed everything, and suddenly they find themselves in the middle of what amounts to a feud between their two families. The problem is that neither one of them is operating with all the information, so what results is a series of miscommunications, frustrations and realizations that lead to everyone involved having to make some big decisions about who they are and what they want out of life. It's a messy story, there is no big happy ending, but in the end there is hope, and a knowledge that everything will eventually be okay for everyone.
Plus there all sorts of outdoor adventures where Zorie and Lennon have to test their bravery, their communication skills and remember what it's like to trust each other. This book ticked all the right boxes for me. In fact... I think I'm going to put it back on the TBR pile for a second read!
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by: Chester Nez
The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.
In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.
By: Kasie West
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through... and who she can’t live without.