I would have probably gotten around to this eventually, but it was this month’s pick for my IRL book club, and I ended up liking it quite a bit, more for its tone than for the actual book itself. It’s very hopeful. But Columbine was the better book, in my opinion. Not that we have to compare the two, but even just for the amount of time and effort put into that book, the output was that much more impactful, and well put together after a decade of work. This one was put together pretty quickly and reads more journalistically.
If you haven’t read either book, first of all I highly recommend Columbine, which is not only a thorough accounting of that tragedy, but a demythologizing of it, since so much of the public narrative that most people know is false. It’s very insightful and humane.
This one, besides also featuring a community affected deeply by a school shooting, is not really about the tragedy itself, but the unique fallout. Cullen attempts to document the strange alchemy that led the Parkland kids to respond with loud voices and activism to the shattering of their personal safety. He follows them as they create March for Our Lives, and beyond. He also documents their reactions post-tragedy in a way he didn’t in Columbine. The PTSD, the determination, the changing of friend groups. How their efforts actually do begin to change the political climate, and engage with urban Latinx and black gun activists as well (which does not get the media attention it should).
It was a very interesting book, and I would recommend it. It’s a fast read, at the very least. I’m still waiting impatiently for him to finish the gay soldiers book he’s been working on for twenty years, and which he put on hold writing to finish this book.