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Events leading up to a night of terror at a high school dance are told from the point of view of various people involved.
SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)
“A disturbing and provocative novel.”—KLIATT
"Vivid, distressing, and all too real…The multiple points of view create empathy for a wide range of characters and enhance the book's in-your-face reality. Important, insightful, and chilling."—Kirkus Reviews
Introduction Around 10 P.M. on Friday, February 27, Gary Searle died in the gymnasium at Middletown High School. After the bullet smashed through the left side of his skull and tore into his brain, he probably lived for ten to fifteen seconds.
The brain is a fragile organ suspended in a liquid environment. Not only does a bullet destroy whatever brain tissue is in its path, but the shock waves from the impact severely jar the entire organ, ripping apart millions of delicate structures and connections. In the seconds that follow, the brain swells with blood and other fluids. The parts of the brain that control breathing and heartbeat stop. One doctor described it to me as "an earthquake in the head."
At the moment of Gary's death I was in the library at the state university, where I was a sophomore studying journalism. As soon as I heard the news, I went home to Middletown, determined not to leave until I understood what had happened there.
Returning to Middletown was like stepping into a thick fog of bewilderment, fury, agony, and despair. For weeks I staggered through it, searching out other lost, wandering souls. Some were willing to talk to me. Others spoke because they felt a need to defend themselves even though no one had pointed an accusing finger at them. Some even sought me out because they wanted to talk. As if speaking about it was a way of trying to figure it out, of beginning the long, painful process of grieving and moving ahead.
Some refused to speak because it must have been too painful. For others, I suspect it was because they had learned something about themselves that they were still struggling to accept --or to conceal.
I spoke to everyone who would speak to me. In addition I studied everything I could find on the many similar incidents that have occurred in other schools around our country in the past thirty years.
The story you are about to read is really two stories. One is about what happened here in Middletown. The other is the broader tale of what is happening all around our country -- in a world of schools and guns and violence that has forever changed the place I once called home. The quotes and facts from other incidents are in a different-style print. What happened in Middletown is in plain print.
This, then, is the story of what I learned. It is told in many voices, in words far more eloquent and raw than any I could have thought of on my own. It is a story of heartbreak and fear and regret. But mostly it is a warning. Violence comes in many forms -- guns, fists, and words of hate and contempt. Unless we change the way we treat others in school and out, there will only be more -- and more horrible -- tragedies.
-- Denise Shipley
Copyright © 2000 by Todd Strasser
Posted October 24, 2011
This book teaches us all a lesson. I decided to get this book from my local library because i am a big fan of this author. I was exieted to finally read it because all books i had read by Todd Strasser metioned how he wrote this.
This book is basicaly made up of interveiws to witnesses of a school shooting. But i goes alot deeper than that. It pieces together an unforgetable story. There are times when u wanna take the main characters Gary and Brennen, give em a good shake, and point them in the rite direction. They are the "bad guys" but you find yourself caring for them along the way.
Earlier when i said that this book teaches a lesson, i was talking about the footnotes it has at the bottom of many pages. It shows heartbreaking facts about guns and teens.
Please read, this book connects and stays with you
6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2008
Every person in the world should read this book. That being said, I'll admit right off that I hate guns. Absolutely abhor them. I'm the mother who refuses to let her children play with toy guns, even water pistols. Why? Why, indeed. Why let your children shoot things at each other--whether it be water, rubber darts, BBs, or paint balls--if you don't want them to shoot bullets at each other? After all, that's what guns are for. To shoot bullets. Bullets that are designed to do one thing, and one thing only--kill. Or, if you prefer, injure, maim, dismember, or wound. <BR/><BR/>So what is GIVE A BOY A GUN about? In a few words, human nature, the cruelty of children, and how those factors don't really mix well with guns. Oh sure, gun activists say that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." And, if you get technical about it, they're right. But when someone gives you a guitar, what's it for? It produces musical sounds. Yes, it needs an actual human to aide it along, but a guitar does what it's made to do--make music. Just like a gun, with the aide of a human, does what it's supposed to do--kill. <BR/><BR/>In Todd Strasser's GIVE A BOY A GUN, we learn about Brendan and Gary, two boys who live each day of school in their own personal hell. They're not athletic, so the jocks pick on them. They're not particularly brainy, so they don't fit in with the nerds. They don't come from extremelely wealthy families, so they're not immediately deemed popular. In fact, Brendan and Gary are like 95% of every teenager you meet--normal kids living normal lives, trying their best to just get through the day. I remember all too well the horror and terror of high-school; not physical, at least in my case, but the sheer emotional bullying that I received from kids who deemed me not up to par. And the teachers who turn a blind eye, either because the tormentors were too valuable to the school as athletes, or too much trouble to deal with. <BR/><BR/>But for Brendan and and Gary, enough turns out to be enough. Really, how much torment can one person take? When teachers and administration and counselors turn the other way, when budget restraints prevent teachers from the ability to really get to know their students, when athleticism takes precedent over brain power, when will school bullying come to an end? Why, really, should it shock us as a nation when things like Columbine happen? Has it really been so long ago that you were in school that you can't remember what it was like to be the object of someone's daily put-downs, or the sneers and snide comments from the "popular" kids? <BR/><BR/>Gary and Brendan, along with a few others like them, were "outcasts" in their school. When their fascination with revenge on those who've tormented them leads to guns, it really shouldn't surprise anyone. GIVE A BOY A GUN is interspersed with tragic facts--school shootings over the last several decades, quotes from newspaper articles, statistics from gun companies--that prove that teens and guns is a growing problem. But really, when you think about it, why should it shock us? We always see signs that proclaim a school a "drug-free zone", but when will we ever see one that proclaims it a "bully-free zone", or a "tolerance for everyone" zone?....<BR/><BR/>Read the full review at www.teensreadtoo.com
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2013
I personally thought this book was a story that needs to be told for everyone to know what can happen in reality. This book teches many of us a lesson. One would be to respect eachother and when you see someone being bullied you need to help. Dont judge them for how they look or how they are. Because in the end itll be your fault. Thiis book taught me a valuable lessson indeed. I loved it and it certainly chnaged my perspective on many things. I loved it
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 27, 2012
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Posted January 4, 2014
This is a quick book that I read through in one sitting. Ultimately, I was not satisfied with the way the story was told. The characters were unrealistic and lacked depth, making it difficult to relate to and empathize with them. The main characters, Brendan and Gary, are often described in the beginning as "changing" into darker people, but no evidence of this can be seen until they actually take their classmates hostage. It seemed to be a 200 page propaganda piece as to why guns should be illegal. Give a Boy a Gun fell flat from beginning to end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2013
Posted September 8, 2013
This book was so good yet so sad, that i had to read it in one day. And it really made me think of what our world is coming to, and i hope that this will not happen to me when i enter high school.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2013
I think the book Give a boy a Gun by Todd Strasser deserves 3 stars because the characters told what was going on and what they saw. Another good thing about this book is that is uses good word choice like epiphany when Brendan got tackled by Paul Burns who was the hero. I like that it included both suicide notes in the paper. I recommend this book to someone who wants to visualize when he or she wants to read it.
Posted April 23, 2013
I think the book Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser deserves 1 star. It was really violent and cruel. A lot of people got hurt in the book,and that was kind of upsetting. A lot of the characters were weird and snotty.The ending shocked me what they did to those kids . I didn’t care that much about the book because it was kind of based on Columbine. I didn’t like the ending one bit. I didn’t like how the jocks picked on Brendan and Gary.It is pretty much the jocks’ fault what they did. If Todd Strasser wrote a part two, I would not read it.
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Posted March 9, 2013
I would be his friend. I would help him overcome what happened. I believe that brendan influenced Gary to do what he did. I believe that if Brendan hadn't moved to little town, this wouldn't have happened to Gary. Face it America, what they did was wrong, but kids like Sam Flach pushed them over the edge. I believe Bredan took a good kid, brought guns into his life and influenced him to be a killer.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 7, 2013
This book is admazing. You find yourself feelimg sorry for Gray amd Brenden because you can see why they did it but at the same time it is hard to believe that some one can kill another. This book unlocks the minds of two very troubled boys but at the same time opens you to the victuims of bulling and how far some one is willing to go.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 1, 2013
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Posted June 12, 2012
This book changed my life and the way I see things. This book is gripping, raw, and all too real. We see this in the news way too often and it's because of this book that I have become a gun control activist. Everyone looks at these kids like monsters when really they're just teenagers that are hurting inside and have no where to turn. This book allows you to get into the minds of Gary and Brendan and understand how they were tormented every single day. It makes you understand just how awful it is. It makes you want to just hold these kids and tell them that it will be okay. This book was definitely a tear jerker. Best book I've ever read. I highly reccomend it :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.