Double Book Review: That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger. We both gave it 5 stars!!!
That’s Not What Happened
Author: Kody Keplinger
Published: August 28, 218
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 . . .
Jessica’s Rating: 5 Stars
Dates Read: March 7-15, 2021
Format Read: Audiobook
Wow! This is a powerful YA novel that takes place three years after a school shooting. It is written via letters from the survivors, mainly from Leanne (Lee) Bauer and we also learn about the victims of the shooting. We learn nothing about the shooter who is only referenced as “him”.
Three years have passed and Lee finds out her best friend Sarah’s parents are writing a book about her. Sarah died proclaiming her faith to the shooter… Or did she? Lee was in the bathroom with Sarah when the shooting happened. Lee knows the truth, but kept silent. And now that a book is soon to be published she wants to set the record straight: That was not Sarah’s necklace! Kellie was also in that bathroom and tried to tell the truth when the shooting first occurred, but no one believed the outcast goth girl.
This powerful novel gives you so many things to think about, the main thing being The Truth: Do we ultimately want the real truth if it differs from what we believe? And how important is a lie that affects the real truth. And a big question the reader feels is why does Lee feel the need for the truth to be revealed now and not three years ago when the shooting occurred. So many people believe one version of the story and Sarah has become a martyr… What will the actual truth do to people when and if they find out? Will people believe the truth or want to keep believing the lie? How much damage can be done to so many people (including Sarah’s parents) when the truth finally be set free?
We do get to meet all of the survivors, one of them being Denny who is blind. I found his story one of the more interesting perspectives. Denny gives you an idea of what it is to be blind and that the blind actually do not have super power hearing that we ‘seeing people’ may think! I would have loved to have more of Denny.
And yes, we do get the ultimate truth of what happened in that bathroom at the end of the novel in one last thought provoking letter.
I did not read That’s Not What Happened for #Diverseathon2021, but it could have been read for a few prompts. Our narrator Lee is asexual and this lack of sexuality does come into play in the novel. I wish I had known this prior to listening as I would have saved the novel for that prompt later on in the year.
That’s Not What Happened is very highly recommended.
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
This was a great read! I was prepared for lots of politics, but there was very little and I was so glad! This book was not about the shooter or even really about the shooting, but about the aftermath. A lot of psychology, a lot of human behavior, a lot of very true stereotypes. It definitely gave a different perspective and I appreciated it. We are all so sure and dogmatic after school shootings but this book showed a different side. And Keplinger completely understands man’s need to cling to hope, whether that hope is false or not.
I don’t think I’d recommend this to most teens, just because the subject matter is so deep, but I’d recommend it to everyone else! It was easy to read, yet the emotions came through just fine!