What an amazing book! Charbonneau has done a marvelous job of dealing with a currently very sensitive and timely subject – school violence. Her characters are well developed, the plot intense, and the setting – the average large high school – is very real. Each chapter focuses on the point of view of one of the 6 main characters; Cas, Diana, Frankie, Rashid, Tad and Z. The story creates a powerful and intense character arc.
The plot is simple; who is the bomber? There are 7 high school students trapped in their school that is being bombed. However, the story gets complicated as you delve into the varied backgrounds of main characters. There is a mixed race gay football player, a suicidal overweight girl, a Christian football hero, a geeky Muslim, a Senator’s daughter who is perfect, and a tattooed, body piercing, long haired angry loner. One of them is the bomber.
Amidst all the blood, violence, and moments of terror, Charbonneau casts suspicion on each character as the possible bomber. The isolation, loneliness, and confusion of high school is real for each of these kids but their home life is not necessarily a prescription for crime. Everyone of them has parents that seem to be involved, loving and caring. In point of fact it is “love” that ultimately drives the bomber, not hate.
This is a great page turner in and of itself but it is also much more. Although the thought of reading this during our current climate of school violence may seem unsettling and even unhealthy to some I encourage you to read it for it provides a great understanding of what is going on in the world around us. Just the simple fact that you will believe each one of the the students could be the bomber has to make you stop and think about the world we live in – a world where superficial impressions can lead to irrational conclusions. It challenges you to consider how we can make changes toward a better school environment and safer world.