Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

A Novel

Book - 2017
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Four high school yearbook-committee members struggle to understand and appropriately document a horrific school shooting in a suburban St. Louis town that is also being terrorized by mysterious house fires at the homes of the victims.
Publisher: New York, William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,, 2017.
Edition: First William Morrow paperback edition.
ISBN: 9780062429148
0062429140
Characteristics: 370 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.

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b
becker
Dec 03, 2018

I had read a short story collection by this author that I loved and was really looking forward to reading this novel...until I found out it was about a school shooting. I had no appetite for that at all and decided not to bother with it until I recently saw a raving review for it on YouTube. I thought I would just pick it up and try a few chapters. That was a stroke of luck for me because I thought it was a powerful story and was unlike anything I have read before. It does begin with a school shooting but it is really more about the effects of trauma on the individual and society. The story centers around 4 friends who are all in different places in the school when the attack happens and therefore all have different experiences ranging in severity. I didn't find the chapter where the shooting took place to be sensationalized at all, which is what I was originally turned off by. Instead, it was chilling and surreal. The author did an amazing job of taking a particular moment in time and breaking it down into slow motion. The smell of blood, the sight of a worn spine on a book, the feeling of a heart hammering in your chest, all instantly imprinting on a young girls mind in fine detail as violence and chaos reigns all around her. I couldn't pull my face out of that part of the book. There is a lot of story after that part which deals with the aftermath and adds another story line in the way of a series of fires. I've seen many people refer to this as YA but I would have to disagree. The writing style and plot structure is not what you would expect from most YA books. I think it would take a teen with very mature reading tastes to enjoy this. However it was a great read for me and one of the best books I have ever read about grief.

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