You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
Ok, that was intense. I was visibly shaking by the end of part one and only just able to hold back tears. Boy Shattered is a work of fiction based on very a factual reality that we, in the US, endure way too often. A reality where active shooter drills are held in our schools and too many kids die or witness the horrors of watching their friends die because guns are a way of life here. How did we get to a place where so much death is more acceptable than gun control? How?
Boy Shattered is told from the POV of two survivors of such a shooting. Brian who was shot and very nearly bled out and Landon who saved his life. Two young men, among many, who should have been making college plans and deciding whom to take to prom are instead facing the aftermath of a tragedy that should not happen. They're the lucky ones. They survived.
Brian is a star athlete - playing football, baseball, and basketball are the only times he feels like he people see any part of the real him. He's gay and firmly in the closet and he writes poetry no one will ever see. His parents are super conservative and his father, especially, is the very image of toxic masculinity, with an "act tough and just get over it" attitude when it comes to Brian's PTSD. He also has become very bigoted in the past couple years, making Brian feel he would never be accepted if his parents ever found out about his sexuality, so he hides himself from everyone.
Landon, however, is out and proud and he doesn't really take shit from people. He's apologetically who he is and confident enough to weather other people's opinions. His family is supportive and loving and instead of beating him down, they lift him up. He knows they have his back and that is how it should be. Landon is a born leader and I have no doubt that if he were real, he'd be destined for greatness.
The story told within the pages of Boy Shattered is important. It's poignant and real. Too real. It's also a love story between two boys found in a silver lining of a tragedy that should never have been. I can't say I enjoyed it, exactly, but I am glad I read it, and I would definitely recommend it. It's amazingly written and heartfelt. I wish it was a story that didn't need to be told, but in our reality it unfortunately does.
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