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Publisher's Summary

The day that Anderson brought a gun to school was the day Aly's life changed forever. Her fellow classmates were murdered right before her eyes as her former best friend embarked on the deadliest high school massacre since Columbine.

Now, nearly two years later, Aly sets foot in the halls that nearly cost her her life for the first time since the shooting, ready to face her demons. Unanswered questions linger, anxiety abounds, and flashbacks are frequent as Aly struggles to understand how Anderson could've mercilessly gunned down her friends and classmates and how she's not only going to forgive him, but herself as well, for the role she might have played in influencing his actions.  

Was she to blame? Did she have blood on her hands? Could she have done something more? Could anyone have done anything more? 

Aly sets out to find the elusive answers to just that as she also attempts to rebuild the life that was shattered by gunfire that otherwise quiet Friday morning nearly two years prior.

©2019 Jamila Mikhail (P)2019 Keep Your Good Heart

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A highly recommended, emotionally complex story

The description of the book above reveals an important part of the plot, so it's not a spoiler for me to say the subject matter involves a school shooting. It would be so easy for an author to write a BAD novel about a school shooting tragedy. A bad novel would be filled with stereotyped characters, melodramatic scenes, and most of all would be written primarily to push a certain agenda.

Thank goodness, author Jamila Mikhail has not written us the bad version of the story here, she's written us an EXCEPTIONALLY good novel instead. Her characters are quirky, unique, and entirely believable. The situations they describe as the story unfolds are realistic, serious, and at times heartbreaking. And much to the author's credit, the book does not trivialize the events by just using them to try to force ANY political agenda down our throats.

Mikhail, through her relatable 18-year-old female protagonist, gives us a very complex story of a young woman in the present trying to cope with the aftermath of a tragedy, and weaves in flashbacks that gradually reveal the events that transpired on the fateful day, and detail her friendship with the young man who would go on to commit the crimes. Just like real life, the emotions the main character has are a complex mix of sadness, grief, anger, fear, love, friendship, and guilt. The powerful story leaves the reader feeling a lot of the same ways.

If you're looking for a great novel that challenges both your head and your heart, give this book a read or listen. You won't be disappointed.