What really happened to Sarah McHale during the Virgil County High School shooting?
Everyone wants the inside scoop after a tragedy, but the narrative doesn’t always prove to be the truth in Kody Keplinger‘s novel That’s Not What Happened.
The novel follows Lee Bauer, a student at Virgil County High School, where one of America’s most followed (fictional) school shootings took place. Lee was best friends with Sarah McHale, who practically achieved sainthood when it was reported that she proudly proclaimed her faith before she was killed.
But Lee was there with Sarah that day. And she knows that the beloved story isn’t true.
As Sarah’s parents prepare to publish a book about the event and others use her best friend’s alleged final moments to spread propaganda, Lee struggles with whether or not to speak her truth, knowing she’ll be villainized along the way. And she soon realizes she’s not the only survivor who has kept quiet about the true events of the day and how their narrative was skewed.
Scholastic teen page I Read YA shared a lengthy excerpt from That’s Not What Happened, which you can check out now!
It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story–that she died proclaiming her faith.
But it’s not true.
I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did–and didn’t–happen that day.
Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .