Thoughts & Prayers – Bryan Bliss

  Thoughts & Prayers – Bryan Bliss, Greenwillow Books (an imprint of HarperCollins), (9780062962249), 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? During a school shooting in their high school in North Carolina that left three students and one teacher dead, Clare, Eleanor and Brezzen hid together under the stairs.  The book is divided into three separate sections with each of the three characters given equal time.

We join Clare nearly a year later living with her brother in Minneapolis.  She is traumatized and having a really difficult time re-adjusting to a life of normalcy. She could not stay in the city where the shooting occurred.

Her best friend Eleanor stayed in North Carolina where she created and wore shirts emblazoned with Fuck Guns.  You might think that everyone would feel the same way after an occurrence like this but she is ostracized, shunned, ridiculed and threatened.  We live in a country where many worship guns.

Brezzen hasn’t been to school since it happened, he plays endless games of Wizards and Warriors with his therapist, living completely in a make-believe world.

Clare’s parents are dead but her older brother cares for her like a parent.  Both Eleanor and Brezzen likewise have incredibly supportive parents.  How would things have been for them without this support?

Seeing the effects of a school shooting upon three individuals is wrenching.  Each of these three, along with supporting characters, are fully fleshed out and realistic. All students present as white.

Anything you did not like about the book?  I had a difficult time with Brezzen’s story because of the game/fantasy world elements.  It colors his life completely to the point that I found it hard to follow, but it probably will not be that way for teens.

To whom would you recommend this book? I could see this being on a summer reading list for high schoolers.

Who should buy this book? Public and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No quite, but a very worthwhile read

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Manager, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review: 4/8/2021

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