Title: Surviving American History
Author: Max Howard
Publisher: West 44
Genre: Literary Fiction, Poetry, Teen & YA
Release Date: 1st August 2021 (US) 1st October 2021 (UK)
BLURB from Goodreads
Gabi is furious about her parents divorcing and moving her away from her hometown, her friends, and her school. But on the day she moves away, a shooter opens fire on Gabi's old school, killing her American History classmates. She knows she should have been in that classroom. Now Gabi has to navigate a new school and new social circles, while dealing with a looming dark cloud of grief, survivor's guilt, and fear. She meets impulsive troublemaker Lennon, who might just understand her dark side, or may pull her deeper into it.
I have read quite a lot of this type of Hi Lo books before and truly enjoy them.These books are also quite short, so you are not committing to reading a really long, involved, meandering read. In fact if you want a short read, or a book to get you out of a “reading rut” then I highly recommend them. Hi Lo stands for High Interest, Lower reading age. I think it is great that there are books to encourage those who perhaps don’t read as much or didn’t get the love of reading whilst younger.
The cover of this book is quite dramatic and really is a snapshot from within the story. It’s literally the view through the Godey High School window, with the gun shot holes in the windows. Also looking inside into the classroom at the pupil’s desks. This cover would make me pick up the book from a bookstore shelf to learn more about it.
The main character of the book is Gabi, a high school student who is packing up her things to leave her current school as her mother has a new boyfriend, Jason, and is moving them to Maine to be with him. All the other students are in class and Gabi is reminiscing at her best friend Ava’s locker that smells of lemon lotion. Gabi is sad and knows she will truly miss Ava and some of the other high school students too. Gabi will even miss her American History teacher too, who happens to be Mrs Lin, Ava’s mother. To say Gabi is unhappy about leaving her school, friends and job teaching yoga is a bit of an understatement, but it is not her decision, it is her mothers. First Gabi’s mobile phone rings and then her mom’s but they are in the middle of nowhere without a decent mobile network signal. Then there’s an announcement over the radio about a shooting at Godey High, it’s the class Gabi would have been in had she not been moving to Maine. It’s the American History class that Mrs Lin (Ava’s mom) would be teaching. Then a familiar voice comes over the airwaves, it’s Gabi’s best friend Ava. Ava’s voice talking via her mobile phone is being broadcast on the radio.
The book goes on about who has died with names being read out on the radio, Gabi desperately listening to the radio, mentally ticking of the names of her school friends. Gabi is continually trying to reach her best friend Ava. Ava would not be in the American History as she didn’t take that class but Ava’s mother Mrs Lin is the teacher of the class and her name has not been mentioned on the radio. Gabi asks, pleads and begs her mom to turn around the car so she can go back and be with her friend. However, Gabi’s mom tells her they are on a tight schedule and they do not have time to go back. Gabi’s best friend Ava is dealing with the school shooting by shutting out Gabi, so Gabi has to concentrate on fitting in at her new school and starting her own life whilst she waits for Ava to reply to her many calls and texts.
When Gabi does start her new school, she badly misses her friends so when bad boy Lennon starts paying her attention, she soon joins him on ever increasing dangerous and outlandish escapades.
I read this book in just one session from beginning to end! It’s full of trauma, survivor’s guilt, acting out, coming-of-age, along with the confusion and pain of her parents divorcing, dealing with her mother’s new relationship, and moving……all these scenarios add up to making this an amazing story. I loved the interactions and the way Gabi & Lennon are drawn to each other and begin sharing their inner most feelings with each other, their guilt and depression about being “the one that survived” separated from the ones they need and miss the most.