Title: If I Don’t Make It, I Love You – Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings

Author: Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman

Pages: 512 Pages

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

The Blurb

A harrowing collection of sixty narratives—covering over fifty years of shootings in America—written by those most directly affected by school shootings: the survivors.

“If I Don’t Make It, I Love You,” a text sent from inside a war zone. A text meant for Stacy Crescitelli, whose 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, was hiding in a closet fearing for her life in Parkland, Florida, in February of 2018, while a gunman sprayed her school with bullets, killing her friends, teachers, and coaches. This scene has become too familiar. We see the images, the children with trauma on their faces leaving their school in ropes, connected to one another with hands on shoulders, shaking, crying, and screaming. We mourn the dead. We bury children. We demand change. But we are met with inaction. So, we move forward, sadder and more jaded. But what about those who cannot move on?

These are their stories.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You collects more than sixty narratives from school shooting survivors, family members, and community leaders covering fifty years of shootings in America, from the 1966 UT-Austin Tower shooting through May 2018’s Santa Fe shooting.

Through this collection, editors Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman offer a vital contribution to the surging national dialogue on gun reform by elevating the voices of those most directly affected by school shootings: the survivors.

The Review

So the world is in a bit of a mess. In the year of 2019, Britain are still trying to figure out Brexit. We have a very dodgy prime minister who is known for having poor morals and scruples and basically being a blithering buffoon.

However, I am eternally grateful that I live in the UK. There are many reasons for this – one of them being the lack of gun crime. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen but in the UK you cannot got to a supermarket and pick up a gun.

In America, due to the second amendment – the right to bear arms – a rule that is outdated and in my opinion should be changed – the availability of guns and ammunition must have had a direct impact on the increase of mass shootings.

I read If I Don’t Make It, I Love You and was so saddened and disgusted that even after all the death of innocent school children that this rule hasn’t been changed. It is appalling.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You gives real life accounts from the more memorable school shootings. These accounts come from survivors, paramedics, parents and siblings of those who lost their lives. It shows how the after effects of events like this are still so pertinent and that whilst in some cases pain eases with time it is never truly gone.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You is a must read.

If I Don’t Make It, I Love You – Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman is available now.

For more information regarding Amye Archer (@AmyeArcher) please visit www.amyearcher.com.

For more information regarding Loren Kleinman (@LorenKleinman) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Skyhorse Publishing(@skyhorsepub) please visit www.skyhorsepublishing.com.

Title: Everything All at Once

Author: Steven Camden

Pages: 128 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

The Blurb

An achingly beautiful collection of poems about one week in a secondary school where everything happens all at once. Zooming in across our cast of characters, we share moments that span everything from hoping to make it to the end of the week, facing it, fitting in, finding friends and falling out, to loving lessons, losing it, and worrying, wearing it well and worshipping from afar.

In Everything All At Once, Steven Camden’s poems speak to the kaleidoscope of teen experience and life at secondary school.

All together. Same place.
Same walls. Same space.
Every emotion 
under the sun
Faith lost. Victories won.
It doesn’t stop. Until the bell. 
Now it’s heaven
Now it’s hell.
Who knows?
Not me
I just wrote what I can see
So what’s it about? Here’s my response
It’s about everything
All at once.’

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I love stories told in verse. Everything All at Once is one such novella.

Steve Camden shows the experiences of being in high school. We see teenagers falling out and falling in love. We see the insecurities of students and inspirational teachers. It covers most aspects of high school and from various perspectives.

Everything All at Once really is a quick and enjoyable read. Pick it up and give it a try.

Everything All at Once by Steven Camden is available now.

For more information regarding Macmillan Children’s Books (@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Pure

Author: Rose Cartwright

Pages: 288 Pages

Publishers: Unbound

The Blurb

Rose Cartwright has OCD, but not as you know it. Pure is the true story of her ten-year struggle with Pure O , a little-known form of the condition, which causes her to experience intrusive sexual thoughts of shocking intensity. It is a brave and frequently hilarious account of a woman who refused to give up, despite being undermined at every turn by her obsessions and enduring years of misdiagnosis and failed therapies.

Eventually, the love of family and friends, and Rose s own courage and sense of humour prevailed, inspiring this deeply felt and beautifully written memoir. At its core is a lesson for all of us: when it comes to being happy with who we are, there are no neat conclusions.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Pure is a fascinating narrative non-fiction about one girls struggle with OCD.

It is a truly eye-opening story that has Rose Cartwright exposing herself and her insecurities with the written word. You really get the feeling that Cartwright has bled out on the page as she relives her experiences.

If I had to sum up Pure in one word it would be brave. I cannot imagine what Rose Cartwright has been through but I am honoured that I got to experience it vicariously through Pure.

Pure by Rose Cartwright is available now.

For more information regarding Rose Cartwright (@RoseCartwright_) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@Unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com/books.

Title: Bookworm – A Memoir of Childhood Reading

Author: Lucy Mangan

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Square Peg

The Blurb

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Bookworm is the delightful memoir of Lucy Mangan. It is a narrative of how important books can be in the growth of a person – emotionally along with physically. We see the books change and grow with Lucy.

What is wonderful is that this book makes you look back and value your own bookish growth.

For me, personally, it went Biff, Chip and Kipper -> Enid Blyton -> Miss Wiz -> The Worst Witch -> Sweet Valley Series -> The Babysitters Club -> Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging Series -> Harry Potter -> Twilight and now adulthood with a toe firmly dipped in the young adult fiction genre.

I love books about books they make me remember the reasons why I love reading.

Bookwork – A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan is available now.

For more information regarding Lucy Mangan (@LucyMangan) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Square Peg (@SquarePegBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk/vintage.

Title: Water Shall Refuse Them

Author: Lucy McKnight Hardy

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Dead Ink

The Blurb

The heatwave of 1976. Following the accidental drowning of her sister, sixteen-year-old Nif and her family move to a small village on the Welsh borders to escape their grief. But rural seclusion doesnt bring any relief. As her family unravels, Nif begins to put together her own form of witchcraft collecting talismans from the sun-starved land. That is, until she meets Mally, a teen boy who takes a keen interest in her, and has his own secret rites to divulge.  Reminiscent of the suspense of Shirley Jackson and soaked in the folkhorror of English heritage, Water Shall Refuse Them is an atmospheric coming-of-age novel and a thrilling debut.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucy McKnight Hardy is a creepy an unsettling story of a bereaved family who go on a trip to try and find some equilibrium after the loss of a young member of the family. The story focuses on Nif, the eldest child in her family and how she has had to grow up a lot quicker than is normal. She is looking after her younger brother, becoming a mum to him as her mum is still dealing with the bereavement and dealing with her dad who is struggling too.

The trip is supposed to bring the family back together but will it succeed?

The story is good although often times I felt like the very languid writing style didn’t help build up any drama or tension. It felt like the first 220 pages was very slow and then everything sped to the finish line within the last thirty pages.

I think I understand why McKnight Hardy chose this style as it reflected the oppressive weather of 1976 in which the story is set but the tempo of the story didn’t work for me.

Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucy McKnight Hardy by is available now.

For more information regarding Dead Ink (@DeadInkBooks) please visit www.deadinkbooks.com.