You Oughta Know: That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Happy Friday Eve, Shelfies! Today I’m featuring another book I discovered at the Miami Book Fair (was this a fruitful event or what? My TBR pile is crying for mercy!), this time a Young Adult book. Like the others, I’d never heard of it before I stepped foot on Miami Dade College’s campus for this event. This book comes with a trigger warning for all my Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). 

During my time at the Miami Book Fair, I got the opportunity to catch up with my friend and By Her Shelf Contributor Alex, who lives and teaches in Miami. Alex was there with her book club, who had researched and planned for the fair down to bringing a rolling suitcase full of books to be signed by their favorite authors. Their primary focus was YA panels/authors, so I saw Alex in passing, but we did meet up and go to one panel together: Truth in Troubled Times: YA Heroes Speak Up. Kody Keplinger, author of That’s Not What Happened was on this panel. Alex and I were a little late, but the portion of the discussion I caught piqued my interest in Kody’s book.

That's Not What Happened

That’s Not What Happened is set three years after a school shooting. One of the shooting victims, Sarah, has become a martyr, as everyone knows she died proclaiming her faith. Or do they? Sarah’s best friend, who was there when she died, claims this isn’t true. The best friend struggles with her desire to tell the truth in the face of the potential consequences.

I’m adamant about one thing when it comes to reading: if a book has an intriguing premise, I pay little to no attention to the genre. This book’s premise definitely hooked me. When Columbine happened in 1999, I was week’s away from my last summer vacation before I started high school. I vividly remember the news reports Surrounding the shooting. Americans weren’t used to mass shootings at schools. We weren’t in danger of becoming desensitized to this level of violence.

I was one of those teens who bought a copy of She Said Yes: The Unlikely Marytrdom of Cassie Bernall. Bernall was one of the victims in the Columbine shooting who early reports claimed was killed after responding “yes” to one of the shooters when asked if she believed in God. The book was written by her mother, Misty Bernall. Cassie’s friend, who was next to her when she was shot, told a different story.

It’s clear the seed of the idea for the plot of this book came from Columbine, but according to what I gleaned from Keplinger’s comments during the panel, her book is more concerned with how the media covers tragedy, creates “inspiration porn” from survivors stories, and most importantly, how the stories of those involved in these tragedies get distorted in that lens. It’s also about having the courage to speak up. This book was written before the Parkland tragedy, but Keplinger said she was amazed by the way many of those students have stood up and used their voices in the wake of the tragedy. I’m sure my experience of Columbine when I was in the age group of the victims, and more recent school shootings will influence my reading of this book. It will be interesting to see the differences in how Columbine was handled versus how the events of this book are handled 17 or 18 years later in a very different America.

If an examination of what happens in the aftermath of a mass shooting tragedy, the struggle of a teenager trying to speak up and tell the truth when others would prefer she didn’t, or an examination of how our current culture packages tragedy for distribution sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you might want to give That’s Not What Happened a try.

Your Turn: Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? How does this effect your reading life? What iconic event in your lifetime impacts how you view fiction on a related subject?

Note: There could be things I’m not remembering about this book that could be a trigger or turn off for some readers. I haven’t had a chance to read this one myself or spend time discussing it with the author, and when it comes to books, I’m usually OK with material that would be triggering to others, so I can’t guarantee I did the best job identifying the major ones.

Alex’s FOMO Book List

TGIF, fellow book lovers! Erica here to introduce a fun post from Alex of CatFairy Books all about FOMO books. As you know from my previous post, a FOMO book is a buzzed about book that you haven’t read and aren’t sure if you’re missing out or not missing a thing. You, the readers, get to tell us which books we should absolutely read and which ones we can totally pass on. Which books on this list should Alex read? Let her know in the comments!

My Fomo Books…
Guys if you know me I am always experiencing the feeling of FOMO! (FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out.) Now I am a huge YA fan but I personally feel like I hopped on the YA train a bit too late! I started to really delve and obsess over the world of YA about two years ago. What I discovered is that there are so many books that were published about two or three years before I discovered YA that still have so much hype and unfortunately I haven’t read any of these books! And then there were books that were published back when I was in the late teens that I should have read and finished a very long time ago! This is when the FOMO feeling breaks in…

Here is my list of FOMO Books! (Prepare yourselves, don’t yell at me!)

The Harry Potter Series…

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I know gasp! What is wrong with me?! I started to read the Harry Potter series back when I was 19 and stopped when I got to the third book!

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I am known to be absolutely terrible when it comes to finishing a book series! Fortunately, I am now officially catching up to the Harry Potter series! I just finished the audible version of Order of the Phoenix and I only have two more books left to go! Audible has been a lifesaver for me when it comes to catching up on books!

ACOTAR Series

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When I first got into YA all I would hear about on BookTube was Sarah J. Mass and the ACOTAR series! I was so intrigued to read it because they described The Court of Thorns and Roses to have a Beauty and the Beast vibe! Beauty and the Beast retellings are my jam and I will read any well-written Beauty and the Beast story! Unfortunately, I just never got a chance to read it because I kept getting distracted by other books that were recently released already! (Recently released books are evil!) Now I am actually FINALLY picking up the ACOTAR series! I just started reading the first 50 pages of The Court of Thrones and Roses and so far the story is very intriguing!

Fangirl

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Honestly, it doesn’t many any sense that I haven’t read this book yet because I am a complete SUCKER for YA contemporary books! I gobble them up like I gobble up my pastelitos de guayaba!

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Fangirl is about a blogger who writes Harry Potter like fanfiction! I mean really…I need to read this because this book has me written all over it! Although I did read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell thinking it was a good start to introduce myself to the world of Rainbow Rowell but now I want to kick myself! Eleanor and Park wasn’t a favorite for me to say the least and I wish I started with Fangirl! TBR goals!

The Sun is Also a Star

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This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for way too long! I read Everything, Everything last summer and I completely fell in love with it! I couldn’t stop reading it and even though I wasn’t thrilled with the ending I am in love with Nicola Yoon’s writing! See my book review about it here.

The Sun is Also a Star got amazing reviews and it looks like the perfect contemporary read to get you out of those dreaded book funks! The book is essentially a romance of two strangers meeting in the bustling city of New York and falling in love but it’s not only about romance. One of the main characters finds that her family is going to get deported to Jamaica and this is when the conflict ensues… Nicola Yoon is a gifted writer and I can’t wait to finally read this!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Are these books worth a read?! Have you experienced FOMO when it comes to books?! What books are they? I would love to hear your opinions!

Page to Screen: The Fault in Our Stars

Happy, Friday, fellow readers! Today we have another  post by the lovely Alex of CatFairy Books, a Page to Screen post all about The Fault in Our Stars. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but Alex makes a great case for both. Have you read the book, seen the movie, or both? Do you plan on reading or watching them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
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The Fault in our Stars is one of the first books to reintroduce me to the world of YA. I wrote a book review of The Fault in our Stars when I was a baby reviewer! Read my review of the book here. If you have never embarked into the world of young adult think of John Green as your official starter pack! Since I have about a zillion books I am reading, unfortunately, I don’t have time to do an official reread of The Fault in our Stars but I can tell you that this book is still one of my favorite books in YA till this day and I consider it a classic!

John Green wrote the kind of book that is unequivocally devastating and uplifting all at the same time. The Fault in our Stars is not just your stereotypical weepy story about two kids with cancer who learn to live their lives like “each day is their last.” If your looking for this storyline then this isn’t the book for you. This is a raw, emotional, introspective, thought-provoking, and a sometimes humorous story about two kids that are doing the best they can! They are not in denial about their cancer in the slightest, in fact, they are one of the most self-aware characters that I have read about. Not only are they self-aware, they are quirky as quirky can be! I actually think if you looked up quirky in the YA world you would find Mr. Green as the master of quirk! I was completely fascinated by the unreal intelligence of Hazel and Augustus and their unfiltered way of viewing the world around them in relation to their cancer. I am full of nostalgia when I think about this book because it’s the book that changed my life because it made me fall head over heels over the YA genre and that led me to write book reviews to blogging a few years later!

Film Adaptation
I felt that the film adaptation is actually equally just as good as the book! There were many little details in the book that are left out of the movie adaptation but it didn’t affect the story in a significant way. The movie really captured the full essence of the book! The characters that played Augustus and Hazel were pure perfection and they captured the heart and pain of these two characters.
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Watching the film adaptation brought out the same emotions that I felt when I read the book and this is a rare occurrence for me when it comes to adaptations! I had a few ugly cries throughout the movie that I wasn’t prepared for even though I knew what was coming. The actors in the movie were born to play Hazel and Augustus and you can see that the chemistry between the actors wasn’t the least bit forced. I was touched by the raw emotions felt between these two characters and I loved how their love was pure without any angst or bullshit behind it. They were truly meant to be Augustus and Hazel for the rest of their lives. This is the kind of story that will make you realize the importance of the little things in life and how we all take them for granted until it’s too late. My heart will always have a special spot for Augustus and Hazel and it was truly a privilege be a part of their fleeting world.

Even though, the film adaptation is just as satisfying as the book I still highly recommend that you read the book so you can bask in all the quirkiness of these adorable characters and fall completely in love. (And when you ultimately fall in love with them you can look forward to a few ugly cries afterward!) If you have never read a contemporary YA book before this John Green back should be number one on your list!

Ok…bye