She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom Of Cassie Bernall (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Overview

She Said Yes is a story of growing up in the '90s, of peer pressure, adolescent turmoil, and the tough choices parents make. It is the story of a mother's loss - of dreams and hopes dashed by the cruel reality of death at an early age. But it is also a story of redemption more enduring than the tragedy that cut a young life short.

When 17-year-old Cassie Bernall walked into the library of her suburban high school around 11:00 on the morning of April 20, 1999, she had little more...

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Overview

She Said Yes is a story of growing up in the '90s, of peer pressure, adolescent turmoil, and the tough choices parents make. It is the story of a mother's loss - of dreams and hopes dashed by the cruel reality of death at an early age. But it is also a story of redemption more enduring than the tragedy that cut a young life short.

When 17-year-old Cassie Bernall walked into the library of her suburban high school around 11:00 on the morning of April 20, 1999, she had little more on her mind than her latest assignment for English class: another act of Macbeth. How could she know that by the end of the hour, two classmates would storm the school, guns blazing, and kill as many people as they could, including her? As the wounded were carried from the bloody scene, several stories of bravery emerged, but one spread faster and farther than the rest. Confronted by her killers, Cassie was asked, "Do you believe in God?" She answered, "Yes."

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Editorial Reviews

Denver Post
A highly personal tale of the perils of parenting, a teenager's search for her identity, and hope...during the darkest of days.
New York Post
Gripping...It's hard to think of a book that so plainly or powerfully provides families with wisdom for surviving conflict with their souls and sanity intact...She Said Yes has nothing to do with the syrupy, preachy tomes typical of the "inspirational' genre...It's a profoundly human story that should be read by every parent and every teen.
People Magazine
Heartbreaking...The story is far more complicated and enlightening than the tidy martyrdom imposed on Cassie after her death...She Said Yes is a stirring, important look into the tribulations of one all-too-human teen...and a poignant wake-up call to parents.
Philip Yancey
Behind the scenes of Cassie Bernall's martyrdom is a story that will chill the heart of every parent - but also bring a strong gust of hope.
Christianity Today
Time Magazine
The most talked-about new account of martyrdom...A moving, nuanced story.
USA Today
Cassie Bernall is a modern-day martyr...her last words have developed a life of their own.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One of the most gripping stories to come out of the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., is that of Cassie Bernall: when asked by the gunmen whether she believed in God, she answered yes and then was shot point-blank. Hours after the story emerged, Cassie was hailed a martyr by news media and Christian groups around the world. Her mother's smoothly written account of that day, and of the years that preceded it, provides a fuller picture of a girl who was once very troubled and, ironically, had been for a time as much of a Goth-loving outsider as her killers. Bernall relates how she and her husband intervened after finding letters in Cassie's room that described occult spells and ways to murder one's parents. In describing her daughter's turnaround, spurred by adjustments at school and a Christian youth group, Bernall also details her own emotional difficulties before and after the shooting. Her remarkable candor about her relationship with her daughter makes this an intense and fascinating memoir. Comments from Cassie's father and schoolmates add depth and, by her own admission, allow even Bernall to learn more about Cassie than she had known before the shooting. Through the Bernall family's example, the book shows how a troubled teenager can be helped, though Bernall doesn't hold back when describing the emotional toll the process can take. Although she doesn't see her daughter as a martyr, Bernall concludes that Cassie's death was, indeed, a triumph of honesty and courage. This powerful memoir honors that courage and reveals Misty Bernall's own. 10 b&w photos. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Before Cassie Bernall was shot at Columbine High School in Colorado, she was asked by one of her slayers, "Do you believe in God?" After a brief pause, she answered, "Yes." She was then shot in the head at point-blank range. When the media reported this exchange, Cassie and her response became world famous. Many assume that this kind of reply had to come from a child steeped in religion. This tape, read by Cassie's mother, does an outstanding job of demythologizing her while honoring her life and her legacy. Two years prior to her death, Cassie was following an extremely negative lifestyle; devil worship, drugs, and alcohol were parts of that scene. Through counseling at their church, the Bernalls chose to face this problem agressively and through personal sacrifice, trial, and error wean their daughter from these bad influences. The power of this work comes from Misty's honesty about her own feelings concerning Cassie's behavior, the sacrifices her family had to make to turn her around, and, most importantly, Cassie's death. There is nothing saccharine about this audio; it seeks to honor Cassie by telling the truth about her life, how she lived her last few years, and what kind of person she was when she died. It also features short segments by Cassies father and brother and friends. Anyone dealing with the death of a loved one, struggling with teen issues (whether as a teen or a parent), or interested in the Littleton tragedy will want to hear this story. Highly recommended to school and public libraries.--Kathleen Sullivan, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
YA-It would be hard to find anyone in the U.S., teen or adult, who does not know what happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, on April 20, 1999. This biography was written by the mother of Cassie Bernall, who was shot by one of the two teen gunmen after answering yes to the question, "Do you believe in God?" A touching foreword by author Madeleine L'Engle sets the tone of the book. Cassie is a very real teen, one who had been as deeply troubled as her killers, but who managed to work her way through it. She had dabbled in "black arts," exchanged letters with a friend about "murdering" a teacher, and loved the shock rock group Marilyn Manson. Once aware of her problems, her parents contacted the authorities, restricted her movements, and closely monitored her friends and activities. Miraculously, a weekend retreat with a church group and newfound friends turned her life around. The story is told through many of her writings and letters, so readers begin to feel as though they know this girl, and understand her. It is a poignant story that will touch teens and leave them wondering if they would have the inner strength and bravery that Cassie showed at her death.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780613608367
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
  • Pages: 163
  • Sales rank: 1,355,162

Meet the Author

Misty Bernall, Cassie's mother, lives in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband, Brad, their son, Chris, and German shepherd mix, Reese. She resigned from her position at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in October 1999 to home-school Chris and assume the role of president of the Cassie Bernall Foundation, established in memory of ther daughter. The foundation's Web address is www.cassiebernall.org.

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Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


tuesday


April 20, 1999, started like any other school day in our house. At five forty-five Brad, my husband, left for work, and a little later I got up to wake the kids. Getting teenagers out of bed is always a small battle, but that Tuesday was especially difficult. Cassie had stayed up late the night before catching up on homework, and her books were all over the kitchen table. Her cat's litter box needed attention, too, and we were running late with breakfast. I remember trying not to lecture her about all the things that needed doing before she left for school ...

    About seven-twenty Chris kissed me goodbye, or at least gave me his cheek, which is what it's gone to lately (he's fifteen) and clattered down the stairs and out of the house. Cassie stopped at the door to put on her shoes — her beloved black velvet Doc Martens, which she wore rain or shine, even with dresses — grabbed her backpack, and headed after her brother. As she left I leaned over the banister to say goodbye, like I always do: "Bye, Cass. I love you." "Love you too, Mom," she mumbled back. Then she was gone, through the back yard, over the fence, and across the soccer field to the high school, which is only a hundred yards away. I dressed, made myself a cup of coffee, locked up, and drove off to work.

    Around lunchtime I got a call from Charlie, a friend, asking me if I'd heard about some shooting at the high school. I said no. I tried not to panic: for one thing, it didn't seem like anything Cassie or Chris would be involved in. Probably just some kids facing offin the parking lot, or a drive-by on Pierce Street. For another, my coffee buddy, Val, and I had just picked up lunch at a local market, and we were ready to eat. Besides, I had always thought of Columbine as a safe school. Wasn't it? ... I decided to call Brad, just in case he had heard anything.

    Brad was at the house when I called; he had left work early and gone home sick. When he picked up the phone, I told him what I had heard, and he said he had just gotten similar news from Kathy, a friend at work. Brad had also heard several pops outside, and one or two louder booms, but he wasn't too concerned. It was lunch time, and there were always kids running around outdoors. Probably just some prankster setting off firecrackers.

    After I hung up, Brad put on his shoes, went out to the back yard, and looked over the fence. There were cops everywhere. Back in the house he turned on the TV and caught what must have been the first news bulletins. Shortly after that the first live coverage was aired. All at once the pieces came together, and he realized that this was no prank:


My eyes were still glued to the tube, but I knelt at the corner of the couch and asked God to take care of all those children. Naturally, my thoughts were focused on our kids, on Cassie and Chris, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, I was sure they were both okay. It seems that if something were to happen to someone so close to you, you would sense something, feel something. I didn't.


The next thirty-six hours were pure hell. By the time I got to Columbine, hundreds of desperate parents and relatives, police officers, bomb squads, reporters, and onlookers had already descended on the area around the school, and complete pandemonium reigned.

    Enough facts had emerged for us to know the seriousness of the situation, but the details were disjointed, contradictory, and confusing. All we knew for sure was that two unidentified armed gunmen had gone on a rampage through the school, mowing down students and boasting as they went. Everyone was frantically looking for someone; people were crying, praying, hugging each other, or just standing there stupidly, staring numbly as the whole chaotic scene unwound around them.

    Many of the families with children at Columbine were shepherded to Leawood, a nearby elementary school, to await word from the police as to their safety; others of us were stuck at a public library, because Leawood couldn't take any more people.

    It was like a battle zone. Soon lists of the injured and safe were being printed out and distributed. In between scanning the latest updates I ran breathlessly from one cluster of students to another yelling for Cassie and Chris and asking if anyone had seen them. Searching the school grounds itself was out of the question, of course. The whole campus was cordoned off and surrounded by an eerie ring of rifle-carrying SWAT teams.

    Chris showed up early in the afternoon; he had fled to a neighbor's home near the high school and finally got through to Brad, who was stationed by the phone at home. Brad reached me on my cell phone. Immediately I breathed easier: Thank God; now we only have to look for one child. But the relief did not last more than a second or two, as my thoughts raced back to Cassie. Where was my daughter?

    Though hundreds of fleeing students had been loaded into buses and driven off to safety in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, others, like Chris, had escaped the mayhem on foot, and in some cases it was hours before their whereabouts were confirmed. The injured, many of them unidentified, had been rushed off in ambulances, and dozens of others hid for hours in closets and classrooms throughout the building. Some, we found out later, were lying alone bleeding to death.

    Around five o'clock those of us still waiting for news of our children at the public library were told that one last busload of students was on its way from the high school, and we should go over to Leawood to meet it. Brad and Chris had joined me earlier in the afternoon, and immediately we jumped into the car and drove toward the school as fast as we could.

    Although our destination was only a few blocks away, it was a terrible drive. Nearly every street near the high school had been barricaded, and the few that were still open to traffic were clogged with TV trucks and vans from every media outlet in Denver. Overhead, TV helicopters clattered, and in front of us and behind us sirens wailed. My heart was pounding so hard, I could hardly bear the anxiety.

    Finally, we got to Leawood. Jumping from the car, I craned my neck to look first one way down the street, then the other. No bus. We waited. Minutes passed, and we kept checking and rechecking the street. Still no bus. Finally, it dawned on us: there was no "last busload" coming. I was beside myself; distraught beyond words. Up to that point I had still hoped for the best, but now? I felt deceived. Not intentionally, perhaps, but deceived nonetheless, and so bitterly that it almost choked me.

    Weeks later we heard the police were certain that all the missing were dead as early as eight o'clock that evening; that they had accounted for everyone else. But because they didn't have positive confirmation, they hadn't said this, and so I continued to grasp at straws. Maybe she's hiding somewhere, I tried to convince myself. She's always been resourceful, and might have found a good place. I just hope she's not hurt. Or: It's better she's hurt than dead. If she's injured she can at least be helped. But she's got to make it through the night, or at least until somebody gets to her ... Hope is really the only thing that will keep you going in such a crisis, even if it's a thin shred.

    By nine-thirty I couldn't stand the tension any longer, and since the police were not giving out any new information, Brad and I decided to go home. It wasn't that we felt like giving up; that wasn't at all the case. But what was the point of hanging around Leawood the rest of the night? Back at the house Brad climbed on top of the garden shed in our yard. He wanted to see for himself what was going on in the school:


Standing on the roof of that shed I could see the whole school. Using binoculars I could even see right into the library windows. I could see the yellow letters stamped on the blue coats of the ATF men; they were walking around in there, heads down, as if looking for something. I couldn't really see what they were doing, but I guess they were stepping over bodies, looking for explosives. Later we heard that they found dozens of bombs ...


Around ten-thirty or eleven there was an explosion from the direction of the high school. We rushed up the stairs to Cassie's bedroom to see if we could see flames or smoke or anything else from her window, but we couldn't. Nothing but blackness, and the low red and blue flashes of police cars and fire trucks on Pierce Street. It must have been a bomb detonating. I was shaking with fear and dread. What if Cassie was still alive?

    Gradually fatigue overtook me, and I tried to go to sleep. It was impossible. Every time I closed my eyes, a new nightmare would jolt me awake. Again and again I saw Cassie. Cassie huddled in some dark closet, wondering if it was safe to come out; Cassie lying cold on some hallway floor, bleeding to death; Cassie crying out for help, with no one to comfort her. How I longed to hold her, to stroke her head, to wrap myself around her and hug and cry and laugh and squeeze her tight! The agony of her absence, and the emptiness of her room, was almost more than I could take.

    I had taken Cassie's pillow from her bed, and as the tears came I hugged it and buried my face in it and breathed in her scent. Cassie's scent. My baby's scent. I have never cried so long, or so hard.

    Around three-thirty in the morning I finally got up and dressed, and Brad walked with me down Polk to the corner, where the first sheriff's car was sitting. Thinking the driver might have something new to tell us, we asked him several pointed questions, but he only hemmed and hawed. Finally Brad said, "Look, just tell us the truth. We have reason to believe that our daughter is still in the school. Is anyone in there alive?" The driver answered, "Okay, I'll give it to you straight. There is no one left alive."

    Desperate as it seems, I was still not ready to give in, even then. There's always a chance she's hiding in a closet somewhere, I told Brad, or that she's one of the injured who wasn't accounted for at the hospital. You never know. They think they have their facts straight, but that doesn't mean they do.

    It was twenty-two hours later, on Thursday, around two o'clock in the morning, that my defenses finally collapsed. The phone rang, and a woman from the coroner's office told us what we had been dreading, though expecting, to hear. They had Cassie's body. Now there was nothing to do but admit that our daughter was really gone forever, that she would never come home to me again. But how can a mother do that? I wept again, as I had never wept before.


* * *


From what I have since been told, it must have been about eleven-fifteen that morning when Cassie walked into the high school library, backpack on her shoulder, to do her latest homework assignment — another installment of Macbeth for English class. Crystal, a close friend, was in the library too:


Sara, Seth, and I had just gone over to the library to study, like any other day. We had been there maybe five minutes, when a teacher came running in, yelling that there were kids with guns in the hall. At first we were like, "It's a joke, a senior prank." Seth said, "Relax, it's just paint balls." Then we heard shots, first down the hall, then coming closer and closer. Mrs. Nielsen was yelling at us to get under the tables, but no one listened. Then a kid came in and dropped to the floor. There was blood all over his shoulder. We got under our table, fast. Mrs. Nielsen was at the phone by now, calling 911. Seth was holding me in his arms, with his hand on my head, because I was shaking so badly, and Sara was huddled under there with us too, holding on to my legs. Then Eric and Dylan came into the library, shooting and saying things like, "We've been waiting to do this our whole lives," and cheering after each shot.
I had no idea who they were — I only found out their names afterward — but their voices sounded scary, evil. At the same time they seemed so happy, like they were playing a game and getting a good kick out of it. Then they came up to our table and knocked a chair over. It hit my arm, and then it hit Sara on the head. They were right above us. I could hardly breathe, I was so scared. Then they suddenly left the room, probably to reload. It seemed like they had run out of ammunition. That's when we ran for it. We dashed out a side door of the library, an emergency exit, and made it just before they came back in.


Crystal lost track of Cassie once the shooters entered the room, and there are conflicting versions of what she was doing. One student remembers seeing her under a table, hands clasped in prayer; another says she remained seated. Josh, a sophomore who spoke with me a few weeks after the incident, did not see her at all, but he says he will never forget what he heard as he crouched under a desk about twenty-five feet away:


I couldn't see anything when those guys came up to Cassie, but I could recognize her voice. I could hear everything like it was right next to me. One of them asked her if she believed in God. She paused, like she didn't know what she was going to answer, and then she said yes. She must have been scared, but her voice didn't sound shaky. It was strong. Then they asked her why, though they didn't give her a chance to respond. They just blew her away.


Josh says that the way the boys questioned Cassie made him wonder whether she was visibly praying.


I don't understand why they'd pop that question on someone who wasn't. She could've been talking to them, it's hard to tell. I know they were talking the whole time they were in the library. They went over to Isaiah and taunted him. They called him a nigger before they killed him. Then they started laughing and cheering. It was like a big game for them. Then they left the room, so I got up, grabbed my friend Brittany by the hand and started to run. The next thing I remember is pushing her through the door and flying out after her ...


One of the first officials on the scene the next day was Gary, a member of our church and an investigator from the Jefferson County sheriff's department:


When we got to the school they divided us up into seven teams of investigators. All of the victims who had been killed had been left in place overnight, because the investigators wanted to make sure that everything was documented before they collected the evidence.
As soon as I entered the library I saw Cassie. I knew it was her immediately. She was lying under a table close to another girl. Cassie had been shot in the head at very close range. In fact, the bullet wound indicated that the muzzle was touching her skin. She may have put a hand up to protect herself, because the tip of one finger was blown away, but she couldn't have had time to do more. That blast took her instantly.


* * *


The gap between April 20 and the present grows a little wider with every passing day, but the details refuse to fade. Sometimes the images surface so vividly, it seems like it all happened yesterday. Doctors say the brain forgets pain, and that may be so. I am not sure the heart forgets. If there is any reassurance to be found in the recesses of the mind, it may be in those happy, simple things that held us together as a family during the last week of Cassie's life. Though uneventful in themselves, they are strangely satisfying to hang on to, and comforting to replay.

    A few weeks earlier Brad and I had taken the kids up to Breckenridge, a nearby ski resort, for spring break, and because we still had unused tickets, we had decided to let Cassie and Chris take a day off from school (something we "never" do) to make use of them. So there they were, going off to Breck on a Thursday, and as I watched them leave the house with their snowboards, I stood there thinking how my brothers and I had never done anything like that, and how special it was that my children were close enough not only to get along, but to enjoy each other's company in an activity they both loved.

    Friday they both were back at school, and Saturday was prom night. Cassie did not have a date, nor did her best friend, Amanda, but both gifts were determined to have a good time anyway:


We couldn't go to the prom because we didn't have dates because we're losers, but the place where my mom works was putting on this big banquet that night at the Marriott, so Cass and I decided to dress up and do our hair and be beautiful and go there instead. We had the greatest time.


Late that Saturday night Cassie called me from the Marriott to tell me what a good time she was having with Amanda and her mother, Jill, and to say that she was planning to stop off at the house and go to the after-prom at the high school. Next thing I knew she was rattling through the house with Amanda, banging the drawers as she looked for a new set of clothes, and telling me she thought they'd be home early, because they weren't sure how it would go. As it turned out, she got home at six in the morning.

    Monday was Monday. Cassie was behind on her homework and had tons to do, because she'd been playing all weekend. Normally she babysat for friends of mine, but this week they didn't need her, so we all ate together, which isn't unusual in our home, but not something we do every night. After dinner she stayed up with her homework.

    Looking back on that last evening of Cassie's life, I still see her sitting there in the kitchen. She hadn't done her chores yet, and I'm sure I nagged at her. Now that she's gone it's painful to admit. So is my belated recognition that our relationship, though generally good, was not ideal — not that night, nor any other. But it's too late to agonize over what could have been.

    Perhaps the cruelest irony of losing Cassie the way we did is the fact that she never would have been at Columbine that day in the first place, had we not tried to rescue her by pulling her out of another high school, the one where she had begun the ninth grade, just two-and-a-half years before. Of course, at that time our relationship was frayed almost beyond repair, and it felt like a minor victory every time we got her home from school in one piece, let alone into the kitchen for a mundane event like a family meal or an evening of homework. But that's another chapter.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xiii
1. Tuesday 1
2. Daddy's girl 17
3. Murder, she wrote 35
4. Home front 57
5. U-Turn 77
6. The trials of love 87
7. Dying we live 113
8. Reflections 125
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First Chapter

Sometimes a thunderbolt will shoot from a clear sky; and sometimes, into the midst of a peaceful family — without warning of gathered storm above or slightest tremble of earthquake beneath — will fall a terrible fact, and from that moment everything is changed. The air is thick with cloud, and cannot weep itself clear. There may come a gorgeous sunset, though.
george macdonald


1. tuesday

April 20, 1999, started like any other school day in our house. At five forty-five Brad, my husband, left for work, and a little later I got up to wake the kids. Getting teenagers out of bed is always a small battle, but that Tuesday was especially difficult. Cassie had stayed up late the night before catching up on homework, and her books were all over the kitchen table. Her cat's litter box needed attention, too, and we were running late with breakfast. I remember trying not to lecture her about all the things that needed doing before she left for school.

About seven-twenty Chris kissed me goodbye, or at least gave me his cheek, which is what it's gone to lately (he's fifteen) and clattered down the stairs and out of the house. Cassie stopped at the door to put on her shoes — her beloved black velvet Doc Martens, which she wore rain or shine, even with dresses — grabbed her backpack, and headed after her brother. As she left I leaned over the banister to say goodbye, like I always do: "Bye, Cass. I love you." "Love you too, Mom," she mumbled back. Then she was gone, through the backyard, over the fence, and across the soccer field to the high school, which is only a hundred yards away. I dressed, made myself a cup of coffee, locked up, and drove off to work.

Around lunchtime I got a call from Charlie, a friend, asking me if I'd heard about some shooting at the high school. I said no. I tried not to panic: for one thing, it didn't seem like anything Cassie or Chris would be involved in. Probably just some kids facing off in the parking lot, or a drive-by on Pierce Street. For another, my coffee buddy, Val, and I had just picked up lunch at a local market, and we were ready to eat. Besides, I had always thought of Columbine as a safe school. Wasn't it?...I decided to call Brad, just in case he had heard anything.

Brad was at the house when I called; he had left work early and gone home sick. When he picked up the phone, I told him what I had heard, and he said he had just gotten similar news from Kathy, a friend at work. Brad had also heard several pops outside, and one or two louder booms, but he wasn't too concerned. It was lunch time, and there were always kids running around outdoors. Probably just some prankster setting off firecrackers.

After I hung up, Brad put on his shoes, went out to the backyard, and looked over the fence. There were cops everywhere. Back in the house he turned on the TV and caught what must have been the first news bulletins. Shortly after that the first live coverage was aired. All at once the pieces came together, and he realized that this was no prank:


My eyes were still glued to the tube, but I knelt at the corner of the couch and asked God to take care of all those children. Naturally, my thoughts were focused on our kids, on Cassie and Chris, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, I was sure they were both okay. It seems that if something were to happen to someone so close to you, you would sense something, feel something. I didn't.


The next thirty-six hours were pure hell. By the time I got to Columbine, hundreds of desperate parents and relatives, police officers, bomb squads, reporters, and onlookers had already descended on the area around the school, and complete pandemonium reigned.

Enough facts had emerged for us to know the seriousness of the situation, but the details were disjointed, contradictory, and confusing. All we knew for sure was that two unidentified armed gunmen had gone on a rampage through the school, mowing down students and boasting as they went. Everyone was frantically looking for someone; people were crying, praying, hugging each other, or just standing there stupidly, staring numbly as the whole chaotic scene unwound around them.

Many of the families with children at Columbine were shepherded to Leawood, a nearby elementary school, to await word from the police as to their safety; others of us were stuck at a public library, because Leawood couldn't take any more people.

It was like a battle zone. Soon lists of the injured and safe were being printed out and distributed. In between scanning the latest updates I ran breathlessly from one cluster of students to another yelling for Cassie and Chris and asking if anyone had seen them. Searching the school grounds itself was out of the question, of course. The whole campus was cordoned off and surrounded by an eerie ring of rifle-carrying SWAT teams.

Chris showed up early in the afternoon; he had fled to a neighbor's home near the high school and finally got through to Brad, who was stationed by the phone at home. Brad reached me on my cell phone. Immediately I breathed easier: Thank God; now we only have to look for one child. But the relief did not last more than a second or two, as my thoughts raced back to Cassie. Where was my daughter?

Though hundreds of fleeing students had been loaded into buses and driven off to safety in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, others, like Chris, had escaped the mayhem on foot, and in some cases it was hours before their whereabouts were confirmed. The injured, many of them unidentified, had been rushed off in ambulances, and dozens of others hid for hours in closets and classrooms throughout the building. Some, we found out later, were lying alone bleeding to death.

Around five o'clock those of us still waiting for news of our children at the public library were told that one last busload of students was on its way from the high school, and we should go over to Leawood to meet it. Brad and Chris had joined me earlier in the afternoon, and immediately we jumped into the car and drove toward the school as fast as we could.

Although our destination was only a few blocks away, it was a terrible drive. Nearly every street near the high school had been barricaded, and the few that were still open to traffic were clogged with TV trucks and vans from every media outlet in Denver. Overhead, TV helicopters clattered, and in front of us and behind us sirens wailed. My heart was pounding so hard, I could hardly bear the anxiety.

Finally, we got to Leawood. Jumping from the car, I craned my neck to look first one way down the street, then the other. No bus. We waited. Minutes passed, and we kept checking and rechecking the street. Still no bus. Finally, it dawned on us: there was no "last busload" coming. I was beside myself; distraught beyond words. Up to that point I had still hoped for the best, but now? I felt deceived. Not intentionally, perhaps, but deceived nonetheless, and so bitterly that it almost choked me.

Weeks later we heard the police were certain that all the missing were dead as early as eight o'clock that evening; that they had accounted for everyone else. But because they didn't have positive confirmation, they hadn't said this, and so I continued to grasp at straws. Maybe she's hiding somewhere, I tried to convince myself. She's always been resourceful, and might have found a good place. I just hope she's not hurt. Or: It's better she's hurt than dead. If she's injured she can at least be helped. But she's got to make it through the night, or at least until somebody gets to her...Hope is really the only thing that will keep you going in such a crisis, even if it's a thin shred.

By nine-thirty I couldn't stand the tension any longer, and since the police were not giving out any new information, Brad and I decided to go home. It wasn't that we felt like giving up; that wasn't at all the case. But what was the point of hanging around Leawood the rest of the night? Back at the house Brad climbed on top of the garden shed in our yard. He wanted to see for himself what was going on in the school:


Standing on the roof of that shed I could see the whole school. Using binoculars I could even see right into the library windows. I could see the yellow letters stamped on the blue coats of the ATF men; they were walking around in there, heads down, as if looking for something. I couldn't really see what they were doing, but I guess they were stepping over bodies, looking for explosives. Later we heard that they found dozens of bombs...


Around ten-thirty or eleven there was an explosion from the direction of the high school. We rushed up the stairs to Cassie's bedroom to see if we could see flames or smoke or anything else from her window, but we couldn't. Nothing but blackness, and the low red and blue flashes of police cars and fire trucks on Pierce Street. It must have been a bomb detonating. I was shaking with fear and dread. What if Cassie was still alive?

Gradually fatigue overtook me, and I tried to go to sleep. It was impossible. Every time I closed my eyes, a new nightmare would jolt me awake. Again and again I saw Cassie. Cassie huddled in some dark closet, wondering if it was safe to come out; Cassie lying cold on some hallway floor, bleeding to death; Cassie crying out for help, with no one to comfort her. How I longed to hold her, to stroke her head, to wrap myself around her and hug and cry and laugh and squeeze her tight! The agony of her absence, and the emptiness of her room, was almost more than I could take.

I had taken Cassie's pillow from her bed, and as the tears came I hugged it and buried my face in it and breathed in her scent. Cassie's scent. My baby's scent. I have never cried so long, or so hard.

Around three-thirty in the morning I finally got up and dressed, and Brad walked with me down Polk to the corner, where the first sheriff's car was sitting. Thinking the driver might have something new to tell us, we asked him several pointed questions, but he only hemmed and hawed. Finally Brad said, "Look, just tell us the truth. We have reason to believe that our daughter is still in the school. Is anyone in there alive?" The driver answered, "Okay, I'll give it to you straight. There is no one left alive."

Desperate as it seems, I was still not ready to give in, even then. There's always a chance she's hiding in a closet somewhere, I told Brad, or that she's one of the injured who wasn't accounted for at the hospital. You never know. They think they have their facts straight, but that doesn't mean they do.

It was twenty-two hours later, on Thursday, around two o'clock in the morning, that my defenses finally collapsed. The phone rang, and a woman from the coroner's office told us what we had been dreading, though expecting, to hear. They had Cassie's body. Now there was nothing to do but admit that our daughter was really gone forever, that she would never come home to me again. But how can a mother do that? I wept again, as I had never wept before.


> From what I have since been told, it must have been about eleven-fifteen that morning when Cassie walked into the high school library, backpack on her shoulder, to do her latest homework assignment — another installment of Macbeth for English class. Crystal, a close friend, was in the library too:


Sara, Seth, and I had just gone over to the library to study, like any other day. We had been there maybe five minutes, when a teacher came running in, yelling that there were kids with guns in the hall. At first we were like, "It's a joke, a senior prank." Seth said, "Relax, it's just paint balls." Then we heard shots, first down the hall, then coming closer and closer. Mrs. Nielsen was yelling at us to get under the tables, but no one listened. Then a kid came in and dropped to the floor. There was blood all over his shoulder. We got under our table, fast. Mrs. Nielsen was at the phone by now, calling 911. Seth was holding me in his arms, with his hand on my head, because I was shaking so badly, and Sara was huddled under there with us too, holding on to my legs. Then Eric and Dylan came into the library, shooting and saying things like, "We've been waiting to do this our whole lives," and cheering after each shot.

I had no idea who they were — I only found out their names afterward — but their voices sounded scary, evil. At the same time they seemed so happy, like they were playing a game and getting a good kick out of it. Then they came up to our table and knocked a chair over. It hit my arm, and then it hit Sara on the head. They were right above us. I could hardly breathe, I was so scared. Then they suddenly left the room, probably to reload. It seemed like they had run out of ammunition. That's when we ran for it. We dashed out a side door of the library, an emergency exit, and made it just before they came back in.


Crystal lost track of Cassie once the shooters entered the room, and there are conflicting versions of what she was doing. One student remembers seeing her under a table, hands clasped in prayer; another says she remained seated. Josh, a sophomore who spoke with me a few weeks after the incident, did not see her at all, but he says he will never forget what he heard as he crouched under a desk about twenty-five feet away:


>

I couldn't see anything when those guys came up to Cassie, but I could recognize her voice. I could hear everything like it was right next to me. One of them asked her if she believed in God. She paused, like she didn't know what she was going to answer, and then she said yes. She must have been scared, but her voice didn't sound shaky. It was strong. Then they asked her why, though they didn't give her a chance to respond. They just blew her away.


Josh says that the way the boys questioned Cassie made him wonder whether she was visibly praying.


I don't understand why they'd pop that question on someone who wasn't. She could've been talking to them, it's hard to tell. I know they were talking the whole time they were in the library. They went over to Isaiah and taunted him. They called him a nigger before they killed him. Then they started laughing and cheering. It was like a big game for them. Then they left the room, so I got up, grabbed my friend Brittany by the hand and started to run. The next thing I remember is pushing her through the door and flying out after her...


. One of the first officials on the scene the next day was Gary, a member of our church and an investigator from the Jefferson County sheriff's department:


When we got to the school they divided us up into seven teams of investigators. All of the victims who had been killed had been left in place overnight, because the investigators wanted to make sure that everything was documented before they collected the evidence.

As soon as I entered the library I saw Cassie. I knew it was her immediately. She was lying under a table close to another girl. Cassie had been shot in the head at very close range. In fact, the bullet wound indicated that the muzzle was touching her skin. She may have put a hand up to protect herself, because the tip of one finger was blown away, but she couldn't have had time to do more. That blast took her instantly.


The gap between April 20 and the present grows a little wider with every passing day, but the details refuse to fade. Sometimes the images surface so vividly, it seems like it all happened yesterday. Doctors say the brain forgets pain, and that may be so. I am not sure the heart forgets. If there is any reassurance to be found in the recesses of the mind, it may be in those happy, simple things that held us together as a family during the last week of Cassie's life. Though uneventful in themselves, they are strangely satisfying to hang on to, and comforting to replay.

A few weeks earlier Brad and I had taken the kids up to Breckenridge, a nearby ski resort, for spring break, and because we still had unused tickets, we had decided to let Cassie and Chris take a day off from school (something we "never" do) to make use of them. So there they were, going off to Breck on a Thursday, and as I watched them leave the house with their snowboards, I stood there thinking how my brothers and I had never done anything like that, and how special it was that my children were close enough not only to get along, but to enjoy each other's company in an activity they both loved.

Friday they both were back at school, and Saturday was prom night. Cassie did not have a date, nor did her best friend, Amanda, but both girls were determined to have a good time anyway:

We couldn't go to the prom because we didn't have dates because we're losers, but the place where my mom works was putting on this big banquet that night at the Marriott, so Cass and I decided to dress up and do our hair and be beautiful and go there instead. We had the greatest time.

Late that Saturday night Cassie called me from the Marriott to tell me what a good time she was having with Amanda and her mother, Jill, and to say that she was planning to stop off at the house and go to the after-prom at the high school. Next thing I knew she was rattling through the house with Amanda, banging the drawers as she looked for a new set of clothes, and telling me she thought they'd be home early, because they weren't sure how it would go. As it turned out, she got home at six in the morning.

Monday was Monday. Cassie was behind on her homework and had tons to do, because she'd been playing all weekend. Normally she babysat for friends of mine, but this week they didn't need her, so we all ate together, which isn't unusual in our home, but not something we do every night. After dinner she stayed up with her homework.

Looking back on that last evening of Cassie's life, I still see her sitting there in the kitchen. She hadn't done her chores yet, and I'm sure I nagged at her. Now that she's gone it's painful to admit. So is my belated recognition that our relationship, though generally good, was not ideal — not that night, nor any other. But it's too late to agonize over what could have been.

Perhaps the cruelest irony of losing Cassie the way we did is the fact that she never would have been at Columbine that day in the first place, had we not tried to rescue her by pulling her out of another high school, the one where she had begun the ninth grade, just two-and-a-half years before. Of course, at that time our relationship was frayed almost beyond repair, and it felt like a minor victory every time we got her home from school in one piece, let alone into the kitchen for a mundane event like a family meal or an evening of homework. But that's another chapter.

Copyright © 1999 by Misty Bernall

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 209 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2009

    Dont read this!!!

    Like the Rachel Scott book, this incident is based on events that witnesses don't claim actually happened. the exchange between the gunmen and Bernall is claimed to have happened only by students who weren't in the library and didn't actually witness it take place themselves. It is disturbing how the Christian movement latched onto these two girls deaths and the fabricated events surrounding their murders. While their deaths were tragic what is more tragic is how they have been propped up and used as poster children for the "paranoia" of the Christian community about being persecuted for their religion.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Based on a lie

    I am sorry for the mother of this girl that she had such a grievous loss, however, the entire premise of this book is based on a media-hype lie. Read Dave Cullin's book, Columbine, for the the most factual accounts of the entire incident. The killings had nothing to do with anti-God killers, and Cassie never said "yes," or was asked any questions by Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is not relevant anymore

    After reading Dave Cullen's book, "Columbine" you will realize that the incident with Cassie never happened. The poor girl never had the time to speak to Eric Harris, as he shot her in the head before she had time to speak to him. The events that led to Csssie's death are horrible, but the "She said yes," myth needs to be once and for all put aside - it did not happen, so the basic premise of this book is not factual.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    She didn't say Yes; Seek the REAL truth

    I remember getting this book as birthday gift when I was 12 or 13, as the shootings occurred near my birthday (April 17) and initially I was moved by the book; little did I know it was a fabrication. But honestly, when I was that young, everything I knew about the Columbine tragedy was misconstrued by the media's false doings; I didn't know what REALLY happened. But now, I'm nearly 21, I'm doing a research paper on Columbine and I'm discovering what really happened. Yes, it's a tragedy that she died but why base a book on a complete fabricated LIE. She never said yes and she wasn't sitting in the library, but hiding underneath the tables. Also, as another reviewer mentioned, another girl (Valeen) said yes and wasn't killed. Harris and Klebold didn't kill her because she was christian, they simply killed her b/c she they felt like killing anybody that day; she was just one of their innocent victims. I find it utterly disgusting that her parents capitalized on her death based on a lie. Cassie was an innocent victim, NOT a martyr.
    I recommend reading any work by Dave Cullen, who was a reporter the day the incident occurred. He also has a new book coming out called 'Columbine.' I can't wait to read it to finally discover the REAL truth.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

    Does this still have any merit?

    This year, "Columbine" by Dave Cullen was released providing a final overarching account of the shootings at Columbine High. In part of this book, it explores the myth of Cassie Bernall's "martyrdom." Multiple witness testimonies and 911 tapes corroborate the story that Cassie didn't say "Yes" was not asked about her belief in God. If anything this book should be called "He said 'peekaboo.'" What's more tragic is the account of another girl who WAS asked, Valeen Schnurr, was decried by Cassie fans as being a copycat.
    Skip this book, if anything read it to see how no one should read too much into what their teen is doing, since Cassie was involved in writing letters that sound remarkably similar to those that Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold wrote.
    This violent act was a tragedy, but the Evangelical push to use it to their movement's gain was shameless at best. The real story has enough inspirational deeds and messages; skip this false account of martyrdom.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Work of fiction.

    While a touching story, this book is based on an incident that never occurred. Written mere months after the massacre, while investigators were still trying to make sense of it all and very little was being released to families and the media, an account of Bernall's martyrdom spun out of control. Further investigation definitively proved the account was incorrect. This story of inspiration never happened, and only further led to a gross misunderstanding of what occurred at Columbine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    cass cass's book

    To the millions who have read this book. My name is trac and I am her cousin. 10 years later we are so still heart broken shes gone but incredibly proud of her and her choice. For me I know the only way I've been able to cope is knowing that no matter what anyone writes about columbine. It's a plain and very simple fact that columbine was a holy jihad we have evidence of that. that what human choice and plain evil intended, God intervened and layed his gracious hand on this school and stopped what could have been a total devastation of mass death and destruction. The death and injuries could have been substantially worse. Rachel Scott went out for christ, John tomlin left his bible open in his truck that morning, Daniel Mauser, on account, was throwing chairs at the killers telling them it didn't have to be this way. Daniel Roughbough held the door for others and in his kindness lost his life, Dave sanders stayed with his students until he knew they were safe and then left this world. Miss schnurr recieved somewhere around 30 shrapnel wounds in the shoot out and miraculously healed enough to walk across the stage for her graduation.No matter what people say I know that my cousin went out for Christ It says it in her writings and it says it on her grave marker P.S I want to live honestly and completely for Christ and it also was confirmed by the swat team who went through hours after and found her half under the table with her hands in a praying position and a wan smile. I take comfort that while all this was going down while we couldn't get to our loved ones Christ was there to hold and comfort each one as they breathed their last breath and welcome them home with a resounding well done thy good and faithful servant. As for the book it is a sweet reminder of all the precious time I had with this beautiful soul. .. Of all the precious time we all had with this beautiful soul. Inspite of the road she was taking and how much her parents struggled with her and much it took out of their own life to get her where she needed to be
    That is the ultimate sacrifice of parenting and more of what we need to see in this world. . .To be able to put your own needs and wants on the shelf to save and put a wayward childs life on the right track weather it's your own child or mentoring another. We have a responsibilty to raise the new generation up right in the ways of God. Cass Cass's story and response has been heard the world over and so many lives literally. . Our prayers are with you where ever you might be in your life. Just as your thoughts and prayers have been with all of us( the families), all these years. May God be with you always.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2011

    Amazing story of a beautiful life of a real believer- must read!

    A wonderful book and life of a believer of God. Not only is this a story of her life and overcoming the challenges she faced, but its also how she said yes. Cassie was heard saying yes to believing in christ, but she said yes is more about how Cassie had said yes everyday in her life to living for her Lord. There are other books out there that say her story isn't true, but over the years one thing will always stay the same... Cassie chose to live for her God and said yes each and everyday to live her life that way. She said Yes is a wonderful book written great and I recommend it over and over again.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Am important read for teens and parents...

    This is the story of Cassie Bernall, as written by her mother. Cassie was killed in the Columbine shootings.

    Her mother tells the story of her life and her death in a way that is honest and sometimes uncomfortable. What I mean by that is that no parent should have to go through having their child die in such a disturbing manner. So, when you read a mother's account of a daughter's death, it's just plain uncomfortable, though it needs to be.

    I would recommend this to parents and teens. This is a great book to discuss with your teen. Maybe Cassie's story can help someone else from either becoming a shooter themselves or from becoming a victim.

    Thank goodness for Cassie unflinching faith, and her family's ability to turn something so awful into something that gives meaning to Cassie's life and death.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    She said Yes

    Cassie Bernall, one of the many victims of the unexpected shooting of many high school students at Columbine High, unfortunately got shot. Devastated from her daughter's death Misty Bernall won a Christopher Award, and hit the national bestseller list with her debut memoir She said Yes. She said Yes is a story that makes you feel the pain and troubles high school students go through.

    Written by her own mother Misty Bernall, Cassie experienced an everyday life of bickering with her parents and surviving the maze of a high school life. She learned lessons from being in the wrong crowd, and faced fears and happiness no other could imagine.

    Looking back on her daughter's death, Misty recalls Cassie inching away from their relationship more and more every day. She says that she wishes she could have done so much to help her, but all she did was watch and act out every now and then. In Cassie's troubled path, she came across a life changing experience that turned her whole life upside down.

    "Yes," she said. It was the unthinkable, piercing silence that was ended with a bang that left you breathless. She died standing up for what she believed in. Only that wasn't good enough.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    The more I read about Cassie Bernall, the impression I get is of a young woman whos parents, in the name of 'tough love', victimized their daughter. When she attempted to define herself and her own spirituality, her parents denied her that right, forced her into a virtual re-education camp, and turned her into a little parrot of their beliefs. And all this book shows is that the Bernall's victimization of their daughter continues after her tragic death. Violating their own faith by bearing false witnesses against the one who truely spoke out for her faith and spirituality, they create an urban myth out of their daughter's 'Martyrdom'. The true martyr here is the truth. We'll never know what the truth of Cassie's beliefs and her true spirituality. All I hope though is she's safe and happy in the arms of what she, in her heart of hearts, held as a Creator. As for her parents, their own actions condemm them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2012

    Not really sure why this book got so many low reviews... I thoug

    Not really sure why this book got so many low reviews...
    I thought this book was a great summer read. It was easy to read and the story was actually pretty incredible. As you read along you sort of grow attached to Cassie's mom and you can, in a way, feel all the pain and struggles that she goes through with Cassie's death. there's a bunch of things in this book that I was able to relate my friends with at school. The Columbine shooting was a real event that happened. I can't completely say it was an anti-God shooting, but its easy to believe that before Cassie's death she was definitely experiencing some spiritual warfare. If you're into religion, you're gonna enjoy this book very much. If you aren't, well, you'll still enjoy the book, but I'm sure you're gonna ask yourself a bunch of questions while reading along.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Don't even bother with this.

    This book was written based on the lie that Cassie Bernall was shot and killed because she said that she believed in god. In reality a student named Valeen Schnurr answered that yes, she believes in god. Valeen was wounded but survied. I'm disgusted that Misty Bernall would exploit her daughter's death, and the tragedy at Columbine, for financial gain. But regardless of Mrs. Bernall's sketchy behavior, this book is fiction presented as fact. And it's not much of a page turner, anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2011

    Awesome!

    This book is awesome! It taught me that not everything is perfect. Ever since I have read the book, I have had a different point of view of life. Life might seem like it takes forever, but it only takes one bullet, or heart attack to kill someone at any age. I keep reading the book, and ever since I read it the first one, I can't stop reading it. I re-read it all the time and I can't put it down once I start it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2011

    Such a great book :)

    This book "She said Yes", is such a great book. I liked it because this book is a true story about a teenage girl who had to take a stand for what she believed. It makes you question what you would do if you were in her position. I was too young to remember the shootings in Columbine so this gave me some background one of the first school shootings in the United States. It was scary but it makes you think. Overall, an excellent nonfiction story that anyone would be interested in.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2011

    She never said anything.

    Let me start by first saying that in no way do I blame Cassie for the lies and in no way do I think she should be dead. I'm truly sorry she was killed.

    However. This book is a lie. At least her saying yes is. I think it is sick that people made up stuff during the columbine the whole thing was tragic and unreal on its own without people adding false statements to it. There was already so much confusion so much "why" that for people to go and spread rumors makes it even more confusing. I strongly home that Misty Bernall didn't know that Cassie never said yes when she wrote this or else she is guilty of using her child's death to gain fame.

    I do not recommend this book based on two things. 1. it was a lie.. and 2. I personally feel her mother made her look bad for the entire first half of the book. Let the girl rest in peace and stop spreading rumors.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    Faith and its Consequences

    In the book "She Said Yes" by Misty Bernall, she tells the story of her daughter. Throughout the book, Misty talks about her daughter Cassie. Although you find out Cassie was a victim of the columbine shooting, you also find out that she like any other normal teenage girl. This book is telling a story of high school girl that goes through many challenges and many problems. As you read you find out many horrific things Cassie has done such as writing letters to a friend on how to kill her (Cassies') parents. Once her mother finds the letters everything seems to go downhill. Cassie led a normal up until she met a girl named Mona. Mona seemed to be a problem that led Cassie into doing bad things. Her parents were concerned when they found the letters because they had drawings of them dead. As Misty read the letters, they became more detailed and she was scared for her life. Thinking the best thing for her daughter was to put her in a private school, but things got worse. Reading this book changed my perspective on things but mostly this passage, "I couldn't see anything when those guys came up to Cassie, but I could recognize her voice. I could hear everything like it was right next to me. One of them asked her if she believed in God. She paused, like she didn't know what to answer, and then said yes. She must have been scared, but her voice didn't sound shaky. It was strong. Then they asked her why, though they didn't give her a chance to respond. They just blew her away." This was josh a boy that was near Cassie at the time of her death. What I liked about this book was that Misty had the strength to relive this tragic time in her life and how much she told about her daughter's life. Someone should read this book because it can change your perspective on faith and how you treat others around you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    highly recommended- you must check it out!!

    This book has touched me. What she did, just blows me away. Being able to face her killers like that? Thats just incredible. Ive done numerous papers on this book because its one of my top 10 favorite books!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2010

    Great Book!!

    She said Yes: The unlikely martyrdom of Cassie Bernall is a great book! It tells about a high school student who was asked the question "Do you belive in God?" after a moment pause she answered yes. Most people would think if a person would stand up for their faith, even if it meant dying, they had been brought up in a strong religious home. Cassie was not brought up in a strong religious home. She had pledged herself to Satin, her and her friend talked about killing, but with the help of her parents she found her way back to God. I think this book was a great way to tell Cassie's life, struggle, and death. It also had other people's views, and thoughts about Cassie and what was happening in her life.

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  • Posted November 12, 2010

    With Just One Word

    Most of us go through life never stopping to think of the possibility that the next thing we do or the next place we go could be the end of our life. That was surely the farthest thing from the mind of 17-year-old Cassie Bernall when she walked into the library of Columbine High School on April 20th. When Eric and Dylan asked her if she believed in God, she said yes, and was punished for it. She Said Yes is the biography of Colombine Massacre victim Cassie Bernall, told with complete truth by her mother, Misty Bernall. It tells of her life from the time she was a little girl playing hide and seek with her dad, to when she began down a dark path similar to the one of her killers, to the months following her death. Narrated primarily by her mother, the book includes pieces of letters to and from Cassie, and inputs from friends, family, and the people who saw her during her last moments. I really enjoyed reading this book because it told of how drastically Cassie turned her life around, it wasn't the typical fairytale most moms would write about their daughters. It gave a new perspective to what the world knows as the Columbine Massacre, which prior to this book was primarily the facts, not the true feelings of the tragedy. The only thing I didn't like about this book was the almost preachy feeling of the book in some parts. It talks a lot about how Cassie's life changed when she joined her church. In an aspect, it seemed almost made up. Cassie went on a church retreat as one person, and returned 3 days later as a totally different person, I personally find it hard to believe that this dramatic change happened so suddenly. The major theme, in my opinion, is love. It tells a lot about how much Misty loves her daughter through everything they were put through. I believe everyone should read this book. Moms should read it because Misty Bernall sets a great example about how to deal with your daughter after she goes down such a dark, rebellious road. Teens should read it because it shows how much parents love their children through thick and thin, and that is important for kids to understand. It has a great message to all age groups about being thankful for the lives they have and gives a new point of view to the well-known high school shooting.

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