Lee has put together her thoughts, notes, and letters by her and other survivors of a school shooting to fix the media’s (and others’) narrative of the event.

This is an interesting book. It’s been a few years since the shooting and the survivors have banded together, united by the same trauma. Well, all but one. Kellie. Kellie and her family were chased out of town when everyone took her truth for a lie.

I read this book because the synopsis reminded me of Cassie Bernall and Valeen Schnurr. After Columbine, it was widely rumored that Cassie declared her faith before being killed. That story took off and made a martyr out of the teen. Except, it wasn’t Cassie. It was Valeen. And she survived the massacre. This book doesn’t make mention of Columbine or the two girls. Not in the acknowledgments or anything. If you weren’t familiar with the Columbine story, then you would believe the book is fictional. Which it is. But it is inspired by true events. 

Now, to the book itself. Like I said, it is interesting. Lee’s best friend, Sarah, has been made a martyr. Lee knows the truth of what happened but in an attempt to not hurt Sarah’s parents, she keeps quiet for 3 years. Then Sarah’s parents decide to write a book and Lee knows she must finally tell the truth.

At times, I didn’t like Lee. She was pushy. Forcing the other survivors to speak about the tragedy even though they continually told her they didn’t want to. But she pushed and pushed and they eventually gave in and it was cathartic for all blah blah blah. What bothered me was that just because Lee is finally trying to take ahold of her narrative, it doesn’t make it okay for her to force the others to do so as well. If they’re not ready, they’re not ready! She’s no better than the people who were trying to shut her up. Ugh. 

A quick, read. There are little tidbits about those killed interspersed within Lee’s manuscript. The book also gets you thinking a lot about truth. Truth and all its nuances. An overall, okay read.

5 thoughts on “That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

  1. This is really interesting. I’m not sure how I feel about Lee, I like that she’s brave and bold, but if there’s anything I learnt last year, survivors coming forward is such a personal thing that other people cannot intrude upon… all Lee should have done is perhaps tried to create a safe space and rallied, perhaps that would have helped. But it still remains a choice to come forward and tell your story.


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