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Two teens try to save a class of first-graders from a gun-wielding soldier suffering from PTSD
When high school seniors Emery and Jake are taken hostage in the classroom where they tutor, they must work together to calm both the terrified children and the gunman threatening them—a task made even more difficult by their recent break-up. Brian Stutts, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, uses deadly force when he's denied access to his son...
Two teens try to save a class of first-graders from a gun-wielding soldier suffering from PTSD
When high school seniors Emery and Jake are taken hostage in the classroom where they tutor, they must work together to calm both the terrified children and the gunman threatening them—a task made even more difficult by their recent break-up. Brian Stutts, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, uses deadly force when he's denied access to his son because of a custody battle. The children's fate is in the hands of the two teens, each recovering from great loss, who now must reestablish trust in a relationship damaged by betrayal. Told through Emery and Jake's alternating viewpoints, this gripping novel features characters teens will identify with and explores the often-hidden damages of war.
“The setup is irresistible, and McDowell’s authentic handling of the confusion and fright of the class of first-graders lends the story a constant undertone of tension. . . . Fans of Todd Strasser and Paul Volponi will relish it.” — Booklist
“What makes this story stand out are the discussions between Emery and the gunman, who is suffering from PTSD. . . . . McDowell balances the gunman’s plight against his son’s shame, fear, and divided loyalties. Written in a format that will appeal to reluctant readers . . . an excellent choice for sparking classroom discussion.” — School Library Journal
“Ripped from the headlines. . . . Fast-moving story that will keep the reader’s attention with bits of humor to lighten the mood. McDowell excels in depicting the voices of the teenage narrators, the first-graders, and a soldier suffering from PTSD.” — Library Media Connection
Posted September 16, 2013
Posted May 17, 2013
This book was amazing i read it in a couple hours and could not put it down. SO amazing how quickly those situations can appear and how no matter how you think you will react to the situation you may just change your thoughts. Life is so fragile. I think everyone should read this book especially our teachers!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2013
This book has a waaay different effect than a book usually has. Especially after the school shooting in Sandy Hook, this book sorta-kinda gives you a sliver of an idea what those kids were feeling. Read. It. That's all that needs to be said.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 16, 2012
Another story that is strong yet impacting, it's really hard to separate your emotions while reading this.
The plot of the book is just heart-breaking. After going to war, a father comes back different. The soldier, suffering from PTSD holds a classroom of kids hostage. Okay, lets stop right there. This alone is devastating He served our country and is facing demons that I can not even dream of. I felt for this guy immediately. It's not like he is crazy, he's been through traumatic things, killed people, face death over and over. But, the other hand, he is putting harm on innocent children. It's makes you really think twice about this plot. I knew that once I got the gist of the story that there is no going back for me.
There is a love interest as well a past friendship. Both Emery and Jake have a past with a mistake that separated them. I like that in this dangerous time, they kept their cool. They complied with Brain requests and even took are of the kids. They handled the situation extremely well and among all thought, managed to find love. Jake and Emery faced such a hardship together that makes them think differently about their life and how short it is.
This Is Not A Drill is a unique perspective of what war causes, chaos. An insanely gripping yet heart-felt story, comes to life beautifully in front of the readers eyes. The authenticity of what happens in the mind of a solider and those around them is so realistic. This Is Not A Drill pulls the reader into a mix of amazing yet raises the hair on the back of our necks.
Posted November 6, 2012
This Is Not A Drill is one of those reads that will stay with you for years to come. While reading this ARC I kept thinking about The Columbine Shooting and The Arkansas School shooting. School shootings are becoming an everyday occurrence and it scares how we send our kids to school not knowing if someone has decided today is the day they are going to go to school and shot it up.
In this case Brian Stutts is a soldier who has just come back from Iraq and his family has fallen apart. His wife is divorcing him and he is not allowed to see his son. Suffering from PTSD he snaps and goes to his sons school to see him but his wife has instructed the school not to allow him to be seen by his father. Enraged that he can not see his son Brian opens fire in his sons classroom.
Emery and Jake are high school seniors who decide to tutor at the elementary school. This in and of itself is difficult for them because they used to be a couple and they had a very nasty break up. So when they are asked to tutor the class they are reluctant at first but then they decide to do it. Together Jake and Emery must figure out how to get the kids safely out of the school and away from Brian. This story ripped at my heart because everyone had someone who hurt them and they were trying to deal with it but stress seemed to be over taking logic.
This story was very interesting in that the author decided to do a dual POV and it is told from Emery and Jakes POV. This is a must read with a box of tissues because it is so heart wrenching. Beck McDowell did a stellar job writing this book.
Posted October 26, 2012
With only a mere 224 pages, I was surprised by how much power this short little novel emitted. This Is Not a Drill takes us into the lives of two teenage kids who are tutoring first graders, when an angry, unstable post-military father arrives and takes the class hostage.
This situation is a real tragedy that we sadly see happen in our world much too often. School shootings, school bombings; any school disaster is a parent's worst fear. To get a call that your first grader is in a classroom with an unstable gunman is unimaginable. For this reason, although this book is clearly a YA novel and anyone of any age would likely enjoy it, I think readers who are parents will get the most out of this story. Because, not only do we care about the teenagers and feel for the situation, we understand the very big picture of this tragedy. We care about the parents outside who are sick with worry for their little ones, we can easily put ourselves in their shoes. We also care about what the teenagers are doing at a deeper level. Every single thing they do to help these kids is every single thing I would hope someone would be offering my kid as a comfort if this would happen. We also understand the kids perspective - at least I feel I understand kids a lot more since I had my own. While I'm not saying those without children will not get all of this, I'm thinking the level of poignancy this book will have on a parent will be heightened.
With that said, the strongest and best part of this novel is, in fact, the kids. Kids may scream, irritate, and simply be unforgivably annoying sometimes, but they are incredibly generous, supportive, and so kind-hearted. The way Beck portrays the children is this book is both realistic and wonderfully uplifting. I found that part to be exactly what I could imagine happening in this situation, from tears to fears to the oblivious cheers.
The teenagers, at least at first, had me a little less impressed. They kept reminiscing on their past relationships a little too much during this crisis. I also had a hard time keeping track of the two perspectives that weren't distinct enough. After a while, however, they became a lot more real, and their actions during the whole event were definitely admirable. I loved the way they handled every dilemmas from potty time to high-stake traumas. I was also deeply moved by the gunman's story. Making me extremely surprised by just how much punch this little book could pack at every turn.
One minor complaint of mine, was the reaction, or lack thereof, from the cops. We have people specialized in hostage negotiations who are trained to go into situations like this and diffuse it, but in the whole day it took to go through this story, the cops barely made a peep. I found this a little doubtful. I understand it's a very complicated situation especially when kids are involved, and I'm no expert, but I would think they would have done more.
This Is Not a Drill delivers an intense thriller that will make you feel equally hopeful and heartbroken. It's a powerful novel that is bound to move you, not only from the tears of a child, but from the laughter that only they can bring.
Posted October 26, 2012
Intense, heart-breaking and hopeful, this little book delivers a realistic punch and is unputdownable. The story of two teens being held hostage along with a roomful of frightened first graders takes an honest look at the far reaching effects of war and the damage PTSD can do. It also shows how forgiveness and the willing to sacrifice oneself can provide hope even in the most dire situations.
Told from alternating POV's, McDowell manages to capture all the emotions of a life-threatening situation, fear, panic and anxiety and infuses it with humor that only a child can lend. Emery and Jake are both familiar with loss but nothing in their pasts, either separate or shared, could've prepared them for Brian Stutts. Having returned home a changed and damaged man, his character evokes feelings of pure disgust and gut-wrenching sadness. The thought that our government frowns upon those who need help as a result of doing their job, is deplorable. "We" send them over there and "we" need to take care of them when they return without judgment or bias.
The situation Emery and Jake find themselves in, forces them to deal with their own issues while allowing them to learn a few life lessons. Both are strong characters despite being flawed and both are eager to do whatever necessary to protect the kids, even if it means risking their own lives. They're no doubt forever changed by this experience and discovering what matters most could be the biggest lesson of all.
Posted October 26, 2012
I read the synopsis for the book and was immediately enthralled! I kept thinking about how I wanted to read this book. I book marked the goodreads page (to keep tabs on it) . I begin supporting both author and book and became a big fan of both before even reading it. I felt that this would be one that stayed with me long after I read the last page, and when I got my hands on a copy I hoped it would not disappoint.
Ok this book had me with so many mixed emotions. The main characters are Emery Austin a senior girl who is teaching a group of first graders with Willoughby her Ex-boyfriend. In the middle of one of their lesson a man by the name of Brian Stutts walks in demanding his son. They think they have the situation under control when the teacher Ms. Campbell escorts him to the office. But he soon returns with the same demand and things escalade from a normal day to the worst you can possibly imagine.
What I loved about this book is that the teens had their own story and past and that made them connect with each other and I felt that gave them added support and helped them remain calm. Also this story was written in both their perspectives and normal I don’t like that in novels but this time it added to the story. Like while one was doing something in the next chapter you could see what the other main character was doing. They had very different voices and that was shown with the dual POV. Emery also had POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) so her views were completely different and the feelings she had were different when put in stressful situations.
Later we find out that Brian is struggling with post-traumatic stress from his stints in Irag. So he is not in in right state of mind. I guess Brian is the villain in this story and I’m supposed to hate him but all I could think about was that he was a victim also. Don’t get me wrong holding a group of kid’s hostage with a gun that is ready to shot is wrong. But I can also sympathize with him also, especially after hearing his story.
This is not a Drill had me up in down the entire time. You are constantly asking yourself questions and wondering what will happen next? Could this situation have been prevented? What’s going to happen at the end? And after the story is over how long would this hunt the people involved memories’?
This is a serious book that brings forward a lot of issues that probably go unnoticed. The event wasn’t sugar coated but also wasn’t something that will hunt you and scare you. It was a story of how certain events can change your life, and how not everything is as it seems. It is a YA novel that I think all should read.
So not all is gloominess We get to see Emery and Jake’s interaction with the young kids, and they are truly remarkable. They thought fast and handled everything in the best way possible. And since kids are a big part of the novel,no matter they situation you will get some funny parts, because let’s face it kids really do say the funniest things.
The only gripe I had was I wasn't ready for it to end I could actually have a couple fuller pages and I would have been even happier.
Overall this was an amazing story! There are some funny moments, some gut wrenching moments, and moments where you a scared and try to predict the outcome, but you just have to keep reading. I highly recommend this novel and I’m so happy I got the chance to read it!!!
Posted November 1, 2012
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