Jessie's Reviews > That's Not What Happened

That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
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really liked it
bookshelves: ace-spectrum

This was a really fast read. I appreciated having all the survivor's voices (if mostly Lee's) and the discussion of voice and truth, what is our choice and what isn't. And arching over that, I liked the running theme of people's stories not being what we think they are.

The community that Ashley, Lee, Denny, Miles, and Eden formed is kind of lovely. I wish we had gotten a little more of Lee interacting with Ashley and Eden pre-letters; that would have made me believe what Lee said about those relationships a bit more. I love that the letters start with Denny feeling pressured to tell the shooting/recovery story for scholarship applications; that felt very realistic.

Lee's relationship with her mom was really interesting, as well. They both have ways in which they're trying to help each other cope, but those ways conflict sometimes.

Lee is somewhere on the asexual spectrum. She says at various points that she is asexual and that she is somewhere on the spectrum; "asexual" as a label seems more comfortable for her than another particular spectrum identity. She figured it out around 8th grade when she noticed that she got crushes but didn't feel any physical kinds of attraction. She does feel aesthetic attraction, and she's not sex-repulsed (somewhere between favorable and indifferent, probably). She says at one point, "I've never had any desire to do more than hold hands or maybe--maybe-- kiss." She does kiss one person here; it's a little unclear how much that's attraction vs a statement, but it's very much her choice.

She talks about coming out to two people: Sarah, who is supportive and does research to understand better, and Miles, who is also mostly supportive. Neither one knows what asexuality is; we see Lee's explanation (using a food analogy) to Miles on-page. Lee says that "ideally" she'd be sexually attracted to someone at some point, which I didn't love, but it's probably true for a lot of spec folks? We get a little bit of the "ace worried about the allo not wanting to be in a sexless relationship" tension, but it's secondary to a lot of other tension. And it actually fit a lot of the other themes here about the choices we get to make, so it didn't bother me as much as normal.

Lee is something of a loner. Pre-shooting, she had one best friend (Sarah) and wasn't close to anyone else, though she was friendly wit others. Post-shooting, her community is almost entirely the other survivors. So a little loner ace trope-y there.

A couple of instances of "more" in a platonic-to-romantic context.

CW: school shooting, gun violence, panic attacks, parents with drug addiction, parent in jail, discussions of ableism and racism, verbal and physical harassment, alcoholism, church-led/caused harassment.
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Reading Progress

July 24, 2018 – Shelved
December 6, 2018 – Started Reading
December 7, 2018 – Finished Reading

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