Finished If I Don’t Make It, I Love You edited by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman. I received a copy for review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“A harrowing collection of sixty narratives—covering over fifty years of shootings in America—written by those most directly affected by school shootings: the survivors.
“If I Don’t Make It, I Love You,” a text sent from inside a war zone. A text meant for Stacy Crescitelli, whose 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, was hiding in a closet fearing for her life in Parkland, Florida, in February of 2018, while a gunman sprayed her school with bullets, killing her friends, teachers, and coaches. This scene has become too familiar. We see the images, the children with trauma on their faces leaving their school in ropes, connected to one another with hands on shoulders, shaking, crying, and screaming. We mourn the dead. We bury children. We demand change. But we are met with inaction. So, we move forward, sadder and more jaded. But what about those who cannot move on?
These are their stories.
If I Don’t Make It, I Love You collects more than sixty narratives from school shooting survivors, family members, and community leaders covering fifty years of shootings in America, from the 1966 UT-Austin Tower shooting through May 2018’s Santa Fe shooting.
Through this collection, editors Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman offer a vital contribution to the surging national dialogue on gun reform by elevating the voices of those most directly affected by school shootings: the survivors.”
This is a harrowing and at times overwhelming anthology featuring people most affected by school shootings (survivors and parents of victims, but some teachers and a few others, including doctors. A couple were related to the shooters). It is not an easy read, but it is an important one.
The last shooting mentioned (the book goes in reverse chronological order) is the shooting at the University of Texas in the 1960s that left 16 people dead. It’s this horrific event, obviously, and the next most recent shooting was in the 1980s. And then, of course, they became a lot more commonplace.
I haven’t even heard of a handful of these shootings, and I would like to say how completely horrifying that is—that these shootings occur frequently enough that they aren’t even covered, necessarily.
While these accounts convey fear and anger, there’s also a sense of hope throughout, that eventually these shootings will stop. Several people mention the Parkland teenagers as being a real catalyst for change. We’ll see what happens when they’re all old enough to vote (when all the kids who grew up with active shooter drills are all old enough to vote).
This is so necessary and I hope it was cathartic for the people who contributed. I also am hoping that the editors are doing well; it was clear that working on this book was traumatizing for them, too. That’s something that’s not discussed, the idea of secondhand trauma.