Jodi Picoult doesn't tell the story of a high school shooting massacre from just one point of view -- we get it from the shooter's, the victims', the parents', law enforcement's, lawyer's and DA's. We don't just see the events of one day, we go back to the shooter's first day of kindergarten and follow him and his classmates to the fateful day and through the trial which followed. We get the whole story, dissected and laid out for us so we can feel everyone's emotions.
Chaos was a constellation of students, running out of the school and trampling the injured. A boy holding a handmade sign in an upstairs window that read HELP US. Two girls hugging each other and sobbing. Chaos was blood melting pink on the snow; it was the drip of parents that turned into a stream and then a raging river, screaming out the names of their missing children. Chaos was a TV camera in your face, not enought ambulances, not enough officers, and no plan for how to react when the world as you knew it went to pieces.
Gripping is a word that is frequently used to describe an exciting book. I wish I could think of a word even more dramatic to describe how this book captured my attention, sucked me in, and had me suffer along with all (yes, I mean all) of the characters. I can't help but look around my school and wonder about all the hidden, horrible things that are probably occurring now and how there may be someone who feels as desperate and hopeless as this shooter felt.
High school students and parents of high school students will find this book scarier than anything written by Stephen King.
My rating for this book: +++++