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Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong

Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong
Pub. Date: May 22, 2018
Source: Finished hardback via publisher (Thank you, Crown Books for Young Readers!)
Summary: Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there’s no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn’t a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don’t heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend–Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can’t resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Sadly, school shootings have becoming an increasingly popular topic. Just last week, one of my favorite authors came out with a new book, one that follows a mother and daughter after their son/brother kills several classmates (including the girl’s boyfriend). It’s interesting – it seems like the recent wave of school shooting novels focus on someone close to the shooter, follow through the eyes of a relative rather than the shooter. The same is true for Kelley Armstrong’s latest, a novel that was certainly hard to read (and what book, fiction or nonfic, on the subject wouldn’t be??).

Three years ago Skye’s world was forever shifted. Her brother Luka was shot during a school shooting…not by a student, but by police. Luka was one of the shooters that day and his actions have haunted Skye ever since. A new school didn’t do much in the way of helping to hide her past and now, three years later, she back home. Back among students who were there that day, students who lost siblings and friends. The looks, the insults are nothing compared to the pain of seeing Jesse again, however. Once best friends, Skye instantly cut off all contact after the shooting: Jesse’s brother was one of the victims. With Skye’s return comes whispers and notes suggesting a new version of That Day. Could Luka have truly been innocent?

Kelley Armstrong is a one-sitting author for me, especially with her recent releases. Missing, her first non-paranormal contemporary thriller, had me glued to the page and while I adore her Cainsville series, I’m SO excited to see where her new style goes. Enter Aftermath.

Let’s be honest, how many books can I really read about children killing their classmates? Turns out, two in a row. I pride myself in being a reader that can read all kinds of horrific tales and not bat an eye (unless it involves an animal’s death, then it’s a hard no). School shootings, however, are on an entirely different level, but both books I recently read, The Hidden Side and Aftermath, approached the topic head-on and became wonderful character explorations of what happens to the family members of those directly involved.

Of course there’s romance, but it appropriately takes a backseat here, and that’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve said before that I would read a phone book if Kelley Armstrong were to ever write one and that still holds true. She was able to take an extremely sensitive, emotional, and timely subject and create a book I truly couldn’t look away from. I became invested in this story, the mystery of what went on That Day, and Aftermath opened my eyes to something I shamefully never gave thought to: how the family of the shooter feels and what they go through. With Luka gone, Skye became the target of all the hurt and rage and my heart went out to her. While I wish school shootings aren’t about to become the next big thing in YA (I honestly don’t know how many more I can read), Aftermath was another fast-paced, highly engaging novel from an author I’ve come to love. Rest assured I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next book!

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