Flor Méndez's Reviews > Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2020, digital, inglés, wishlit-fisico

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 2004. We didn't have a mass school shooting since then, and if I googled more I might discover we didn't have many mass shootings in general, before and after that.

Having said that, I requested this book because even if we don't have them, we know about USA mass (school) shootings. I live-read about the Parkland mass school shooting in 2018 on Twitter, and follow some of the survivors on social media because of their fight against gun violence. I read on Wikipedia about these events, analysis on the perpetrator(s), about the aftermath of victims' families and survivors, and how these experiences changed them.

But -thank God- I don't know anything about mass shootings.

The book has three parts, each of them told in the perspective of two girls and one boy, respectively. All three of them hid together under a staircase a year ago, when someone started shooting their classmates on the hallway.

The first part is about Claire, a survivor that decided to move out of town after what happened. She and her brother, a now-retired professional skater since he decided to look after his sister after their parents died, survive day by day with Claire clearly having PTSD.

This is the only story that I didn't like that much. I don't think the third person narration does much for this character and her story, since she clearly has feelings we as readers can't access, and her reactions to and experiences with her new friends -Dark, Legs and my personal favorite, God- were kinda lost for me. It also felt as an unfinished story since it had so much more to explore! We just started getting into Dark's life and problems when the first part ended, but we can't get into them because it's not about him, it's not about their friendship, so we miss that as well. I also don't think the Frankestein and the Monster idea was 100% well executed; it felt kinda disconnected to the rest of the story, so it didn't do much for me as a reader.

But then we get into Eleanor's story-- and I truly liked it! I like Eleanor, could connect with her and her problems, and cheered for her when everyone else didn't. The narration switches to first person for this story and I think it gets better because now we got access to her feelings and thoughts, even when she didn't want to have them-- she wanted all of it to end, she wanted to kind of get over everything like the rest of the schools seemed to do. Even when her parents and her boyfriend tried really hard to understand her, they couldn't. Her boyfriend is also a survivor, but he wasn't hidden under that staircase while hearing the shooting and people dying. He doesn't /get/ it.

And last but not least, my favorite story of the three: the Brezzen's story.

After a year of hiding in his house and being homeschooled, Brendan's parents and psychologist decided that it's time for him to try and go back to school. He refuses at first, but his psychologist, who's been playing Wizard's & Warriors with him, helps him get into this adventure kind of as a quest for his character. He goes back to school with his hand-drawn map, reunites with some of his friends and has to spend his school hours in the same place a year ago someone shoot and killed four people. He even has to go through the same corridor, the same staircase.

I was a little confused at first because I have literally zero experience with Dungeon & Dragons kind of games, but once I started to get the slang I 100% got into the story. I loved how the game and strategy helped him go through some things and how anxiety-driven some of the scenes were. Brendan rolling the dice was great, since I recognized myself doing things with my hands when I start getting anxious, mostly at social gatherings.

I honestly think this is a really good book. I really enjoyed the writing and even if I didn't like Claire's story, I could totally /see/ her. Her reaction to some of their friends' actions, words or drawings were real and reflected the PTSD she's going through. I could see some of the survivor's fight in Eleanor's story and the reaction she ignited in some ignorant, violence-driven people. And I think Brendan's story is the best, because its coping mechanisms were great, and real, and authetic, and even enjoyable, because you cheered for him and wanted him to get better, to face his fears, to look at Medusa in the eye and say "I'm afraid and that's okay!!!" to her face.

Also, they all appear in each other's story, and that was a great detail.

I'm glad I read this book and I'm thankful that mass school shootings are accesible to young readers through fiction. You don't have to physically experience it (and I hope no one else has to, ever) to demand stricter gun regulations, fight for the end of gun violence and for a better mental universal healthcare. We all stand with survivors, we all ask for the same thing. And in the author's words, with a little bit of s spoiler for the acknowledgments: "I want to thank everyone who, like me, has had enough. The survivors. The activists. The everyday people who simple won't let this keep happening. Keep going. Keep going. We can fix this."
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Reading Progress

May 6, 2020 – Started Reading
May 6, 2020 – Shelved
May 6, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020
May 6, 2020 – Shelved as: digital
May 6, 2020 – Shelved as: inglés
May 6, 2020 –
8.0% "Es lindo ver que en un YA en el que uno de sus escenarios principales es la escuela les protagonistas hablan de lo cool que es un profesor. Últimamente veo mucha onda de 2 kool 4 skool en otros libros."
May 8, 2020 –
25.0% "No sé si me gusta a dónde está yendo este libro. Also, la narración en tercera persona no ayuda. Una primera persona hubiera sido mucho más beneficiosa."
May 8, 2020 –
37.0% "Ehhhh no me gustó la parte de Claire? Los únicos dos personajes que me gustaron fueron God y Derrick. Con el resto no conecté, la historia me quedó con muchos baches y la utilización de la tercera persona para la narración no me pareció una buena idea."
May 11, 2020 –
66.0% "La parte de Eleanor me gustó muchísimo más. Ayudó la primera persona, sin duda. No sé si me convence cómo terminó, ya que es un final abierto, pero de los dos relatos que leí este sin duda le pasa el trapo al primero."
May 11, 2020 –
78.0% "Me re gusta esta idea de algo como D&D (no sé si es real el juego del libro, soy mala con esas cosas) como coping mechanism. Me encanta la idea de la escuela como mapa en el que desarrollar una misión."
May 11, 2020 –
92.0% "Si el autor de acá al 100% no mete la pata, sin duda esta tercera historia es mi favorita de las tres. Y sería medio escalera, de un 2 a un 3.5 a un 5, redondeando a 4 en general porque me gustó casi todo 👀"
May 11, 2020 – Finished Reading
July 17, 2020 – Shelved as: wishlit-fisico

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