Book Review: That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

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.”

Faced with the 3rd anniversary of the shooting, Lee is starting to feel suffocated by the pressure of truth. With the lies of the circumstances of Sarah’s death getting bigger and bigger Lee knows it’s time to tell the truth, even if it could ruin absolutely everything. As a way of dealing with the tragedy before leaving for college, Lee encourages all of the survivors to write their own letters and the consequences aren’t what she expects…

I’ve never read a novel by Kody Keplinger before but I was intrigued by this one. It has an interesting concept and I really enjoyed that it was a mix of traditional prose and letters. The fact that Kepplinger made each letter really fit with an individual character showed a real talent.

Of course, this isn’t an easy book to read. It does go into quite a lot of detail in regards to a school shooting, dealing with PTSD after the event and the effects that something like this would have on the entire town. I’d definitely keep that in mind before picking up the novel as it’s not going to be a cheerful one.

I was also surprised a few times within the book, while I thought I knew what was going to happen there were revelations. Each of the characters were fleshed out to have their own lives, their own hopes and fears and while we see these through Lee’s eyes it made the novel stand out to me.

There are parallels, I’ve been told, with the story of a young woman who was killed in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Some people have seen this as a reason to slate the novel, however, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. She has simply taken a similar story and built her own around it. Bare in mind that this is targeted at young adults, I myself was 4 years old when Columbine happened – I knew nothing about it. So it may not be as obvious to younger readers.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars, I was really impressed by the amount of depth that each of the characters had and their own accounts of the story. I definitely want to read more of Keplinger’s books and would recommend this as a thoughtful read.

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