Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash
"Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.
Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom."- summary from Amazon
I absolutely loved Banash's Elite series and was excited to see new books being released from her. I never got a chance to read White Lines (her book from last year) and so jumped on the opportunity to read her latest book. The subject matter interested me because I find school shootings fascinating and tragic and there's so much to be mined from that subject. Banash picked an interesting angle to come at, telling the story from the perspective of the shooter's sister. Alys is such a wonderfully depicted character and I really felt and understood her struggle as she tried to grasp at the reality of the situation and deal with the aftermath of it all.
The vast majority of the book focuses on the aftermath of the shooting, with the actual event itself taking place within the first 30 pages or so. Banash has a beautiful, atmospheric way of writing that really brings the reader into the story and into Alys' life. The ripple effect of this event is immense and deep and while she still has a long way to go toward getting better, there is a hint of hope at the end of the book and the story ends in just the right place.
Overall, a fantastically written book that's extremely compelling and engrossing. I may have to read White Lines soon to get more of a Banash fix. I highly recommend this book- go out and get it now!
and here's an interview with Jennifer:
I got the idea for Silent Alarm from reading about the 2012 school shooting in Chardon, Ohio. One article mentioned that the shooter had a younger sister and that fact stuck with me--I started obsessively wondering what it was like for her to be related to him and have no idea what he was capable of, to live in the same town. Although the girl in question didn't actually attend the same school as her brother, my wheels began to turn, imagining the possibilities. It's funny because I was slated to write a completely different book altogether, but this story took hold and wouldn't let go. I'm just thankful that I have an editor who, without missing a beat, told me to go for it, to write the story I needed to tell. The result was Silent Alarm.
2) What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about it?
I'm pretty superstitious when I'm working on a project, but I can tell you that the next book I'm writing is about a relationship between two high school students that begins online, and then moves into the real world with all of its problems and complications. It's also tangentially about bullying and catfishing, but I don't want to give too much away . . .
3) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, what kind of snack do you like to have while writing, or as a reward for writing?
I actually (don't hate me) am not the biggest fan of jelly beans. I much prefer chocolate, and the darker the better. I eat it in vast quantities when I'm working on a book. Basically, my eating habits go right out the window and by the time I'm finishing a novel, I'm usually eating frozen M&M's straight out of the freezer and calling it dinner (I mean, it IS, right?). Writers are not always the healthiest of people!
4) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?
I just finished We Were Liars, by E.Lockhart and loved it, and Afterparty by Ann Redisch. I'm also rereading Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth right now. I love to either read or reread one classic a month, and I adore Wharton's descriptions of the problems and perils of high society. I'm really excited about the memoir from Kim Gordon from the band Sonic Youth that's coming out later this month, Girl in a Band, not to mention the new biography of Stevie Nicks. I love stories of strong, creative women. I find them really inspiring, and I find that often, after I reach a certain point in a manuscript, it helps to read things that are unrelated to whatever I'm working on.
I have a signed hardcover of Silent Alarm to give away, thanks to Penguin. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post stating why you want to read this book. The contest is open to US/Canada residents only and will run until Monday, April 6 at 9pm EST when I will pick a random winner. Good luck to all!
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes towards funding contests.