Nothing but life

Brent Van Staalduinen, 1973-

Book - 2021

"During a sweltering summer, Dills must come to terms with a horrific crime and the parent he loves who committed it. Dills and his mom have returned to Hamilton, her hometown, hoping to leave the horrors of Wilkson behind. But it's impossible to really run from tragedy, and trouble always follows trouble. When Dills hurts a new classmate, it comes out in court that he was in the Wilkson Collegiate library when the shooter came in. But he won't talk about what he saw, what he stil...l sees whenever he closes his eyes. He can't. He definitely can't tell anyone that the Wilkson Shooter is his stepfather Jesse, that Jesse can speak into his mind from hundreds of kilometres away, and that Dills still loves him even though he committed an unspeakable crime"--Provided by publisher.

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Subjects
Genres
Paranormal fiction
Published
Toronto : Dundurn [2021]
Language
English
Physical Description
290 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781459746183
145974618X
9781713739012
1713739011
Main Author
Brent Van Staalduinen, 1973- (author)
Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—Fifteen-year-old Wendell "Dills" Sims physically survived the shooting at Windsor High School, but he has not fared well emotionally since. Not only did he witness his best friend and others die, but his beloved stepfather, Jesse, was the shooter. Seeking a fresh start, Dills's mom moves them to a new town—her hometown—after the tragedy. But Dills hears Jesse's voice beckoning him to return to Windsor, where he lies in a coma after trying to kill himself at the end of the massacre. Despite several obstacles in his path, Dills knows he must see Jesse in hopes of gaining some closure. Though Dills will never know if Jesse intended to kill him that day, he needs to confront his unresolved feelings, including why he has such a hard time hating Jesse. Van Staalduinen writes with clarity and ease, moving the plot along at a quick pace that keeps readers engaged. He is able to convey empathy for not just the victims of the shooting, but for all parties touched by its ripple effect. He aptly portrays the complexities behind human fallacies and shows how difficult it is to neatly categorize people. There are some passages that could be read as anti-Israel, though that is not the focus of the book. Dills's friend Gal, who is Israeli, is well-drawn. Another character, Mia, is Palestinian. Their friendship is nuanced and well-crafted. Dills and his family are cued as white, except for an aunt who is Korean. VERDICT A moving portrayal of a complex situation that will appeal to teenagers mature enough to read about school shootings.—Melissa Kazan, Horace Mann Sch., NY Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

White Pine Award 2022 — ShortlistedDuring a sweltering summer, Dills must come to terms with a horrific crime and the parent he loves who committed it.Dills and his mom have returned to Hamilton, her hometown, hoping to leave the horrors of Windsor behind. But it’s impossible to escape the echoes of tragedy, and trouble always follows trouble. When Dills hurts a new classmate, it comes out in court that he was in the Windsor High library when the shooter came in. But he won’t talk about what he saw, what he still sees whenever he closes his eyes. He can’t. He definitely can’t tell anyone that the Windsor Shooter is his stepfather, Jesse, that Jesse can speak into his mind from hundreds of kilometres away, and that Dills still loves him even though he committed an unspeakable crime.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Dills can’t talk about the day the shooter came into the school library and opened fire. The memories are too raw. He certainly can’t share that the shooter is his stepdad, Jesse. And Dills definitely can’t tell anyone that Jesse has always been his favourite person on earth, that he can hear Jesse in his mind, and that he still loves him.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Dills can’t talk about the day the shooter came into the school library and opened fire. The memories are too raw. He certainly can’t share that the shooter is his stepdad, Jesse. And Dills definitely can’t tell anyone that Jesse has always been his favourite person on earth, that he can hear Jesse in his mind, and that he still loves him.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

During a sweltering summer, Dills must come to terms with a horrific crime and the parent he loves who committed it.Dills and his mom have returned to Hamilton, her hometown, hoping to leave the horrors of Windsor behind. But it’s impossible to escape the echoes of tragedy, and trouble always follows trouble. When Dills hurts a new classmate, it comes out in court that he was in the Windsor High library when the shooter came in. But he won’t talk about what he saw, what he still sees whenever he closes his eyes. He can’t. He definitely can’t tell anyone that the Windsor Shooter is his stepfather, Jesse, that Jesse can speak into his mind from hundreds of kilometres away, and that Dills still loves him even though he committed an unspeakable crime.