Would You Want to Peak Behind the Headlines? "Silent Alarm" Review

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Title: Silent Alarm
Author: Jennifer Banash
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
"Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.

Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.”

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. I know that seems weird to say considering the subject matter - try explaining to your co-workers the plot of this book as they notice that you've literally been carrying it around everywhere and reading during any off time you get, you'll get some strange looks - but I thought the writing style was simply beautiful and I just fell into the story. An example of Banash's style is:

"I also know that it might just be a fantasy, a moment of wishful thinking. A story I tell myself in moments of quiet contemplation, when the wind outside shifts through the trees in a whisper, rustling the curtains, and lulling me to sleep. (pg. 293)"

Banash starts off strong by beginning the story right before Alys' world completely falls apart. What seemed liked any other day changes in an instant when her older brother, Luke, comes to school with a gun and kills fifteen people. I liked Alys from the beginning and related to her quickly. She's a shy, insecure musician who dreams of playing her violin professionally. She has one best friend and a boyfriend, both of whom she's known since birth. However once the shooting is over she and her parents are ostracized by the community and she's left with conflicted feelings. She knows what her brother did (she was even there in the library and watched him kill) and hates him for it but she also loves him too. It's an interesting dichotomy and the author does a wonderful job of getting into Alys' head and demonstrating her guilt and shame at what her brother did.

Alys' world completely crumbles and I felt like I was right along side her for the ride. It's hard not to empathize with her and the story provides a unique insight into the behind the scenes costs of something as tragic as a school shooting long after the cameras leave. There are no easy answers in "Silent Alarm" but it is a magnificently told story that is well worth a read.

Words To Live By

"I'm not innocent enough anymore to believe that my life will change overnight, simply from one well-played piece of music, one moment of beauty lighting my way out of the darkness. This is not that story and I am not that girl. Not anymore. But I hold on to the thought nonetheless, cradling it in my chest like the first spring flower, like a poem or a sonata (pg. 292).”


Couldn't put down this engaging and unique story.
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Tracy is a history/film fan who loves to read YA, historical and contemporary fiction. She’s also a sucker for a sad tale. Harry Potter (“Harry Potter”), Peeta Mellark (“Hunger Games”), Nathaniel Blake (“Little Men”) and Daniel Landon (“Catcher, Caught”) are her literary boyfriends. She’s also the resident Ravenclaw and librarian.

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