Violence Among Us: Books that Focus on School Shootings

Earlier this year, teens at Hogan Preparatory Middle School may have averted tragedy. They told their parents when someone threatened to bring a gun to school. The student rumored to be armed arrived at school on January 25, 2013. That morning, “Kansas City police said they found a Glock 19 semi-automatic weapon along with ammunition in the student's backpack.” 1 Instead of the boy shooting anybody, everyone went home unharmed.

You go to school every weekday. How can you prevent violence there? People who are planning an attack usually leave warning signs before they do anything. Ask yourself some questions.
Has the student made threats, boasts, or warnings? Could his friends have encouraged plans for violence? Do his records indicate any past misbehavior or other troubling incidents? Does he show signs of depression or difficulty with personal problems? Is he singled out for bullying or teasing? Does he have access to firearms?2

The fact of the matter is that every person is a part of a community. Everyone is somebody’s son or daughter, friend, classmate, etc. This is true for those who are hurt and those who do the hurting.
Three fictional books that examine the context of school shootings are Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, and Mockingbird Mok'ing-bûrd by Kathryn Erskine.

Valerie Leftman, the main character in Hate List, has to face herself and her peers when she starts a new school year on crutches. Her boyfriend, Nick, shot and killed people at their school, and Val suffered a bullet wound while saving a classmate She spent the summer in recovery. However, her relationship with Nick and the list that they made before the incident made her less than a hero upon her return to school. The list named people who they hated and felt had wronged them. After the fact, that list shows Nick’s motive. While the police clear Val, her name in the school is far from unsoiled.

In Give a Boy a Gun, Allison Findley’s experience is similar to the one that Val has in Hate List. Her actions save the life of a classmate who her boyfriend shot. However, this book is different in that Allison’s story is not the main focus. Several people involved in a school shooting give their perspectives on what happened. Teachers, students, popular kids, outcasts, one of the shooter’s moms… little snippets from each of them piece together the picture of what occurred.

Perspective is key in Mockingbird Mok'ing-bûrd by Kathryn Erskine. Caitlin tells the story, and she has Asperger’s syndrome. This ten-year-old girl had only one person who really understood her: her brother, Devon. However, this book happens after he dies in a shooting at his middle school. Caitlin seeks closure, but so do other people: her father, the son of a teacher who was shot, and the cousin of the shooter—along with the entire community.

All these books provide a unique view of the phenomena of school shootings. Yet they all remind people how complex both the causes and effects of such violence are. Thank you to the students at Hogan Prep. In an ideal world, murders in schools would be nothing more than fiction.

1. http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/crime/teen-student-brings-gun-ammunition-to.... Accessed 15 February 2013.
2, "School Violence: Schools in Crisis." Teen Health and Wellness. Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2013 http://www.teenhealthandwellness.com/article/429/school-violence-schools...

Author Interview with Ari Marmell

book jacket

Our Oh My Teen book group interviewed author Ari Marmell about his young adult novel Thief's Covenant, the first in the Widdershins Adventure series and the group pick for November. A brief synopsis of Thief's Covenant: "She is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillons underbelly looking to find answers, and justice with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshipers but Widdershins herself."

Teen Book Reviews - Manga

Reviewed by Tamara, age 16, of the Waldo Branch Library.

Review for Library Wars: Love & War Vol. 1
by Kiiro Yumi

This manga takes place in the near future the government has decided to rid the society of books that it labels as inappropriate. These books are seized from bookstores and any people found carrying them by strict MBC (the Media Betterment Committee) officers. The libraries vowed to protect their books from the corrupt government and established their own military task force called the Library Defense Forces. Iku Kasahara is a new recruit on the Library Forces and is excited to finally have the job of her dreams. But will she lose her enthusiasm as her perfect job turns sour when her drill instructor seems to have it out for her?

Warped - Teen Book Review

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Tessa Brody lives with her father above their bookstore. When her father decides he need more books for their bookstore they go to an auction where they buy four boxes of books and one extra. Inside that box were a tapestry and a book with the words TEXO VITA on it. Tessa convinced her father to let her keep the tapestry and the book so she hung the tapestry in her bedroom wall.

The tapestry had a unicorn running in a forest with a scratch on its cheek that was bloody on it. When Tessa touched the unicorns bloody cheek she had some sort of vision or something and she saw a girl that looked just like her running in a forest and a handsome man named William de Chaucy looking for her.

Yes, Tessa had a past life and she felt like she knew the unicorn in the tapestry some how. And since she first touched the tapestry she kept having these weird dreams where this guy William de Chaucy got changed into a unicorn by an old lady named Gray Lily and she put him in her tapestry.

NaNoWriMo Begins Tomorrow! (Free Flashdrives!)

This year, the Central Library at 14 W 10th St will be participating in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program and will be handing out free flash drives for each teen who joins us every Sunday in November from 2:00-4:30 for our weekly write-ins! There will be snacks and prizes for everyone who meets their word count goal!

National Novel Writing Month happens every November! It's a fun, seat-of-your-pants writing event where the challenge is to complete an entire novel in just 30 days. For one month, you get to lock away your inner editor, let your imagination take over, and just create!

Kansas City Public Library Beta