Title: HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED
Author: Mary Crockett
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie–beautiful, saintly Jamie–was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.
On the eve of Kyle’s sentencing a year after Jamie’s death, all the other “chosen ones” are coping in various ways. But our tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.
Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie’s boyfriend–knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?
The main character is beating herself up because she feels that Kyle should have killed her, not her friend Jamie. She almost went to meet Kyle, and it could have been her. Now, a year later, Kyle is getting sentenced. She has to go with her other four friends and testify against him, and she will see him for the first time since he killed Jamie. She doesn’t know how she is going to deal with it, or her attraction to Charlie, Jamie’s ex-boyfriend.
This book is about the main character and her friends healing. There are many side plots, including the trouble that her friends get into as they are grieving. I will not give any names besides Charlie, for spoiler purposes, but the side plots make up the majority of the book. This book is definitely important for YA readers. Sometimes things happen and people die. Sure, not everyone has one of their semi-close friends murdered in high school. But whether it be in high school or college or young adult life, almost everyone is going to see someone they know die unexpectedly. Whether it is something as big as a murder or as normal as a car accident, it will happen. People will have to deal with it. I liked how the main character noticed her own stages of grief and learned how to cope in her own way, instead of just allowing herself to drown.
One thing that was a little strange was Charlie’s emotional outbursts. I thought that we would get some sort of clarification as to why he was so upset. Like, we understand that your girlfriend died, but sometimes he was acting a little crazy. I thought that he would come out and say that he and his girlfriend had a fight right before she died, and so he felt like he was the reason that she saw Kyle that day. Or that his girlfriend had been cheating on him with Kyle. Something to warrant him being so unstable during the time, more unstable than I considered to be normal. But no surprising details were given. He was simply upset. This was even a lesson for me about grief, that it sometimes isn’t “normal.”
Then there was a bit of a love triangle, but luckily it sort of went away by the middle to end of the book. I was able to overlook it and focus more on the better parts of the story.
This book had so much to offer, and even though it felt very long to read, I thought that the read was worth it. If the book had been paced faster it might have been quicker to read, but I don’t think we would have gotten all the details that the slower pace allowed.
Overall, this was really an enlightening read. It wasn’t a fun or easy read, but it was realistic and important. I would recommend this book to lovers of YA fiction.
I received an advance copy of this novel.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model.
In her other life, she’s an award-winning poet and teaches creative writing at Roanoke College in Virginia.
If you tweet at her, chances are she will tweet back.
3 Winners will receive a finished copy of HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED, US Only.
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