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Thoughts & Prayers

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Claire, Eleanor, and Brezzen have little in common. Except for the fact that a year ago, they all hid under the same staircase and heard the shots that took the lives of some of their classmates and a teacher.

Now, each one copes with the trauma as best as they can as the world around them keeps moving. Thoughts and Prayers is a story about gun violence, but more importantl
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published September 29th 2020 by Greenwillow Books
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

What a disappointment. THOUGHTS & PRAYERS was one of my most anticipated books of the month and it turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

THOUGHTS & PRAYERS is basically three different, separate stories about high schoolers who survived a school shooting. Each part covers one student, one year later. I believe Bryan Bliss wanted to illustrate how each survivor had different reactions to the event, but he failed to make me care about any of the kids. None of the
Claire, Eleanor, and Brezzan all survived the shooting at Ford High School. This is each of their stories one year later. Claire has moved across the country; Eleanor has become an activist; Brezzan has been staying home and is now being asked to return. All three experience PTSD and the ways their fears and traumas play out showcases how complex the impact of such violence can have on every single person.

Though Claire and Eleanor know each other, none of the stories are connected. It's essentia
Daniela Mejia
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was a bit hesitant to read this book simply because, as an educator, school shootings are a possibility in my line of work. I went in blind, hoping for the worst and I was pleasantly surprised!

This book was gut-wrenching, hopeful, sad and full of redemption. I think Bryan did an excellent job at really encapsulating the fear and paralyzing effects of living through an unspeakable trauma! We got to see the change Claire, Brezzen and Eleanor went through emotionally, mentally and physically aft
Chris G.
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Claire, Eleanor, and Brendan all survived the shooting at their high school but a year later they are still grappling with trauma. Claire and her older brother have moved to the upper Midwest, where Claire begins to heal when she meets a boy who is also a trauma survivor. Eleanor focuses outward, becoming a face for gun control that makes her a target for classmates who strongly support or viciously oppose her position. Brendan is paralyzed by fear until his love of role playing games provides a ...more
Samantha Kelley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Johnson
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Bryan Bliss has completely nailed it. Big, ugly, very relevant topics in a very real, very poignant, very accessible way. This book, told in three parts from the perspective of three students who hid together under the stairs at school during an attack by a shooter. Instead of focusing on the event and the shooter, which so often happens, Bliss works his writing magic by revealing the very real aftermath on the children who endure such a traumatic horror.

The placating phrase “though
Diana Kelly
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, arcs
The title of this book is what grabbed my attention. “Thoughts & Prayers.” How sick are we of hearing that phrase every time there’s a school shooting? “Thoughts and prayers to the family. We’re not going to try to do a literal thing about gun control, but I’m so sorry this happened to you!” “Thoughts and prayers to the family. We cannot BELIEVE this keeps happening, especially since we’ve done absolutely NOTHING to try to stop it! Such a shame so many children have to die, but this is America a ...more
Flor Méndez
Got to read this through a free copy from Edelweiss :D (reseña en inglés porque creo que va a ser mucho más útil para lectores de habla inglesa que para nosotres, les que hablamos español).

Let me get something straight from the beginning: I'm from Argentina. We don't have mass shootings, even less mass school shootings. In fact, I googled it because I'm almost 25 years old and couldn't remember a single one-- and found that the first Latin America mass school shooting happened in Argentina in 20
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Sadly, I expected more of this book and it didn’t deliver. It is one year after a school shooting, and the story checks in on three survivors to see how they are doing. These three survivors huddled together under a stairwell during the shooting. So, it was disappointing that the follow-up with them was three separate short stories.

However, the individual stories were realistic in revealing how each of the survivors was dealing with the aftermath of the incident. Each has some form of psycholog
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Three narratives follow survivors of a school shooting. Claire's panic attacks and PTSD was so bad she and her older brother/guardian moved, but when Claire befriends three boys at the skate park, she begins to see warning signs in one of them. Eleanor was best known for the anti-gun t-shirts she wore after the shooting, only now she's become a target from the pro-gun population. Brezzen has dealt with the shooting by retreating into a D&D-like world.

This wasn't what I expected, but in a good w
Oct 26, 2020 rated it liked it
DNF at 77%. You can ask me that why didn't I finish it, since I had only a bit more to go. See, I had no patience, there were many awesome books out there that I had yet to read and I figured this book wasn't worth that much time.
I didn't really know anything about this book. I picked it up on a whim, without giving it any thought. Now, I realize that was a mistake.
Thoughts and prayers is a story told in three parts. Each part gives the narrative of a different person who survived a gun shootin
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank goodness for this book. It is beautiful, insightful, reflective, powerful and conveys so much with such a simple, non-preachy style. Three teenagers. Three separate stories. And yet their lives crossed for just a few moments on one fateful day under a school staircase.

Claire, Eleanor and Brezzen survived the school shooting that killed a teacher and fellow classmates. They have each continued their lives, coping with the trauma and fallout in their own ways.

Thoughts & Prayers starts with
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into "Thoughts & Prayers" with an equal amount of high expectations and fear for an unrealistic positive spin. Thankfully this book didn't focus on "trying to understand" the shooter's perspective or in telling a cute little story about how activism and a sound argument can change people's minds and hearts easily.
Instead, this book chose to focus on the aftermath for people that were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was all the more heartbreaking and meanin
Having been in high school myself when Columbine happened, and observing firsthand how that incident forever changed how schools are run and students interact with each other, I've always had an interest in books involving school shootings. Bryan Bliss's Thoughts & Prayers is one of the newest titles in the genre to explore the aftermath of a school shooting and its effect on three students.

Claire has moved away from her hometown where the shooting occurred, but finds she is having difficulty a
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Thoughts & Prayers by Bryan Bliss.

This is a story of three highschoolers with one main link. They all witnessed a school shooting, and now must continue on in education and life, adjusting to their new crippling trauma. One turns to her friends in a skate park, while feeling suspicious of everyone around her, being diligent to protect the world from another potential shooter. Another copes by wearing a controversial tee-shirt, playing basketball and giving the
Anna Heyblom
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
What an odd little book. A great concept- it's not often that we have a book that focuses on the mental health aftermath of a school shooting. But at the same time, it wasn't cohesive. It's three separate stories. I really liked the first one and got very invested in the characters (despite their silly names) and was a little upset when I finished that part. I couldn't bring myself to care much about the characters in part two, and by the time I got to part three, I just wanted it to be over. I ...more
John Klein-Collins
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Bryan Bliss does a masterful job of demonstrating through three separate characters that everyone deals differently with grief and trauma. After living through a shooting at their high school, the death of three classmates and a teacher, and what feels like the rest of the town and school returning to normal before they can, Claire, Eleanor, and Brendan all deal with the tragedy differently, yet similarly.

Claire moves out of state with her brother, Derek, to escape the scene, but she only finds
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2021
This was a much harder book for me to read than I expected. I am not sure what I thought it would feel like to read it, but it was heavier and more emotional for me than I prepared myself for. I loved how Bliss let each character - and sometimes their families - cope with the anniversary of a school shooting differently. It is so rare for anyone to cope the same way. Bliss explored many coping tools with the reader. What a healthy read for any survivor ... of any trauma. As a survivor of a colle ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for my honest review.

I hate giving this a “meh” score because I understood what the author set out to do and the intent behind the book. But the writing was not for me. I thought it was a little boring, and nothing much seemed to happen. I have read several other books on the same topic that I preferred. That being said, the characters were great and fully fleshed out, and again, I appreciated the intent of the book. 3 stars.
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
'Thoughts and Prayers' takes into the three students struggle one to deal with trauma one year after a school shooting. This book is a great read for anyone who wants practice hearing the stories of way too many of our youth and young adults who are living carrying such trauma. Suggestion: As you finish the book, flip back to the pages before each section with the poems and read them all together.

My copy was a gift through Goodreads First Reads.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fiction
Not your typical school shooting text. This book follows 4 survivors of the same incident and how they are coping with such a traumatic event. Really shines light on how important extended mental health care is in situations such as this. Because when the news crews leave, when the cameras are gone, when the hashtag stops trending, there are kids and adults remaining who lives through it and have deep scars.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book. The connection to Minnesota was exciting and the story itself was very interesting. I liked that the perspective was the survivors and surviving. The book wasn’t filled with flashbacks but still showed how much was changed by one student. I especially liked how pathetic most of the staff was, this reminded me a bit of the administration in my own high school...
Caroline Craig David
This was such an interesting look at the fallout of gun violence. It was especially eerie because the act of violence itself was set in North Carolina. It was very well written and I felt like I really knew these characters.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2020
This book was the epitome of 'okay.' Some parts where gripping and emotional, but others were flat and evoked virtually nothing. The layout being broken down into 3 novellas did it no favors. If anything, it presented characters who needed more exposure, more time to develop. ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book because I wanted to learn how how survivors cope after a school shooting but sadly the stories just didn’t connect the way I thought they would. I found myself only liking some characters stories instead of others and just created some disconnect throughout the stories!
Dana Fontaine
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I read this 400 page book in one sitting. I think it is highly underrated. This novel told in three parts (pretty much three separate novellas in one setting). I just wish the stories were a little more connected.
Susan McGilvray
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Should win all the things.
Shauna Yusko
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Strong 3.5.
Three different stories.
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Bryan Bliss is the author of No Parking at the End Times, Meet Me Here, and We’ll Fly Away, which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award. He lives in Saint Paul, MN with his family.

You can visit him online at and on Facebook and Twitter.

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