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Thoughts & Prayers

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Lily Jeong is straight A student but misunderstood by her family and classmates. Lily's secret boyfriend promises Lily her will get revenge for her public humiliation. Lily sneaks him into the school but Lily's boyfriend lied that no one would get hurt and minutes later, fourteen people are dead. Lily is plagued by guilt and her lies continue to build up. 

Class president Keisha Washington (who Lily doesn't get on with) who survived the school shooting  resolves to hunt down the culprit. Sofia Hernandez (whose dad is a police officer) lost her bestfriend Caitlyn Moran in the school shooting ends up bonding with Lily.

Joe Hernandez, who is Sofia father and the first police officer to enter the school, Charmaine Robinson a nurse whose husband died protecting Keisha and former Army Colonel Mike Moran, Caitlyn’s father all struggle to piece together their wrecked lives.

When they all come together in a support group instead of finding solace, their mounting feelings of grief and anger drive them to protest and vengeance. Will they ever find justice and peace? 

This is book is told from multiple POV's.

This book isn't a easy read at all . It is heart breaking, emotional and devasting as we see each character story through the book and how they are dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting. 

The author writes this book with the most upmost care. 

I received a ARC from Netgalley and Sunbury Press, Inc., Milford House Press for an objection review.
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This was so well written. I was engrossed from the first page and it ticked all the boxes of my expectations. I would definitely recommend to others.
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Wow!  I am feeling all kinds of feels about this book—anxious, sad, hopeful, cAutious, anger and more! The authors have created a story (based on too many school shootings irl) that will force you to examine your views on gun control, the legal system, what it takes to be a family and the critical , fragile state of the adolescent experience. 
Truth be told, I have read so many books on school shootings but this one has the twist of including the points of view of the shooter as well as one of his deceased victims along with parents and other students. 
This is an important read. Unfortunately, it’s also timely.
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Thoughts and Prayers by Lee Anne Post


232 Pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press / Milford House Press
Release Date: October 26, 2021

Fiction, Gun Violence, School Shooting, Mass Shooting

Lily is in love with a boy. He is her escape from her strict Korean family. He says he will help her get even with the people that have hurt her. All she must do is open a door for him at school. That is when the world turns upside down for her and everyone else at Rockwell Highschool.

This book is fast paced and written in multiple points of view. The characters are well developed. The title of the book is so appropriate since we hear it so many times after a school shooting. Legal action is needed more than words. This is an emotional book and at times hard to read. I cannot imagine if one of my grandchildren were in such a situation. I think everyone should read this book.
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Thoughts & Prayers provides another take on the school shooting phenomonen that is mostly uniquely American. Told from multiple perspectives the story centers around LIly, a student who is struggling socially due to the pressure from her parents and herself, and her participation in the tragedy at her high school, along with the friends and family of survivors. Lily is manipulated by her boyfriend (the boyfriend that no one knows about) and thinks he is just going to get back at classmates for humiliating Lily-but that no one will get hurt. Instead, mere minutes later, 14 are dead. Lily is terrified of being implicated, and tells lie after lie. While the survivors meet in a support group, some forge friendships while others are determined to get vengenance. Tired of thoughts and prayers, how is this group of survivors supposed to move forward?

This is a tough book. First and foremost.  I had to put it down at times because, as one would expect, the material is heavy, sad and difficult to read. The feelings, emotions, and reactions ring true.  There have been many novels covering this tough subject matter and this is told from more of the YA genre. The perspective changes often and you have keep that in mind as you follow along but this is a solid story covering a very difficult subject.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest feedback.
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This is not the first book I've read about a school shooting and it probably won't be the last.  This kind of thing seems to have become far too frequent an occurrence in American schools.  

The book opens in the chaos of the shooting and follows a group of survivors through the aftermath.  The survivors are a mixture of students, parents and other adults associated with the shooting.  Which for me, made this a confusing read.  Is it supposed to be YA?  If so, why are there so many adult voices in there?  Or is it for adults?  If so, why doesn't it go deeper into the way this kind of event can affect adult relationships?

Because the book straddled the line between YA and adult, I didn't feel like it really did justice to either audience that well.  The voices of the characters were not distinct enough to recognize who was narrating any one section and the young voices were not that different from the older ones. It was surprising to me to discover the book was written by four authors because the voices were all so similar. 

And there were so many characters to keep straight!

There's Lily who was an accomplice to the shooting in that she let her boyfriend into the school to, she thought, make a little mischief.  There's Keisha, the over-achiever whose life was saved by the guidance counsellor whose office she was in at the time of the shooting.  There's Sofia whose father is one of the policemen who entered the school first to take down the shooter.  There's Caitlin, Sofia's best friend who is shot, but not initially killed in the shooting.

There's Charmaine, the nurse at the hospital who receives the victims and is the wife of the slain guidance counsellor, there's Joe, Sofia's father and the cop who enters the school first, there's Caitlin's father, Mike, dealing with the grief of losing his daughter.

And there's the killer who is known primarily by his initials, ABC.  There are a few sections from his POV too.

The book follows these characters through the shooting and the weeks following it, through their grief and anger and accusation and attempts to heal.  Each has their own way of dealing with the events but they all come together at a support group, not knowing the accomplice they are all anxious to find is actually sitting among them, grieving alongside them and dealing with her guilt at the same time.

The characters were racially diverse - Asian, Latino, Black and white, but I felt a little uncomfortable with the representation. It felt very stereotypical, especially the representation of Lily's parents as Asian tiger parents, interested only in school and not caring about art or anything else.  The Spanish sprinkled into conversation amongst the Latino families didn't feel authentic either, not like the writers actually spoke Spanish with their own families.

This was an interesting book dealing with sensitive and important subject matter, but I feel like it could have been stronger if it had focused only on the teen experiences or only on the adults. Trying to balance both meant neither was fully realized - a shame when dealing with such powerful material.

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this one early!
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I'm been sitting on this review for a while now. I haven't finished the book, and I decided today that I won't. I don't enjoy writing review that aren't glowing, but that's kind of the point of reviewing - it's no use if you only give good feedback,.

I struggled with this book from the get go. With all the BIPOC, Latino and Asian authors out there these days, I thought it was odd, in a book written by four white-presenting older women, when the first character we are introduced to was from a stereotypical Asian family - "Her parents would be so dishonored", Tiger-parents, Americans have no morals. I have it the benefit of the doubt, but I highlighted a LOT of passages that either felt tokenistic, offensive, or just plain badly written.  I won't speak to the writing, as this is an ARC, but I found these parts hard to get past.

I understand that people grieve in different ways, but in a YA novel, to have adults thinking "what should he say to a brother he's cut off because he didn't approve of [brothers] openly gay lifestyle?" is harmful. The person thinking was an adult, whose daughter had been shot and may not survive, and the adult was hesitant to tell the girls biological uncle that she was potentially dying, because he DIDN'T APPROVE OF THE GAYS. Sorry, but for teens who are struggling with being accepted and possibly facing physical harm due to their sexuality, this is not okay. 

Another issue that stood out to me as harmful was the sentence "Before today, probably the most traumatic event that had occurred in their lives was not getting chosen for the cheerleading squad or losing a football game." I'm sorry. You just invalidated the lives and traumas of so. many. teens. For these two reasons alone I could not in good conscience hand this book to any teenager.

The level of white privilege that comes through in other parts of the book had me cringing ""The neighborhood you grew up in sounds a lot different from mine" he said. That  surprised her. He was a fraternity guy, wasn't he? "Really? How?" "I grew up in the city. You'd probably think my neighborhood was a ghetto." "Oh, it couldn't have been that bad."" 

The stereotypes continue - we know the Asian parents are focused on school and only academic school; the Latino father sprinkles in Spanish (though it reads like classroom Spanish, not the fluent, bilingual, informal native speakers use), the Black girls is described as Pharaonic.

The treatment of mental health also concerned me, with one of the characters diagnosing herself with PTSD the day after the shooting. I can't speak from experience, but my best friend can, and she agrees that while it's 100% likely that the students would suffer PTSD, the day following the shooting would still be active trauma, and a diagnosis wouldn't be a thing yet.

Overall, there is no way I will recommend this book. I think the premise is great; the idea of seeing the different facets of the aftermath of a shooting from different points of view (adult, police, teens, siblings) is fantastic. But this book read far too white, far too middle class, far too stereotypically Republican.
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Thoughts & Prayers
by Lee Anne Post
Pub Date: 26 Oct 2021
This is one I had to put down because it was hitting me hard. Yes, it's about a school shooting, but it's really about the aftermath of a school shooting and how it affected everyone involved. Told from many characters' points of view, we see how students, parents, spouses, and faculty are affected by such an traumatic event. 
***The following is NOT a spoiler.***
Super student, but always in the background Lily didn't lose anyone in the shooting, but is tied into the event in a way no one knows nor would understand. She was the one who opened the locked school door to let the shooter in to kill her classmates and teachers. She was the unknown accomplice. Everyone is speculating who it might have been, while dealing with the immense loss in their own way. Lily didn't know what he had planned, or did she? Was this really what she wanted all along? As she sees the consequences of her actions in lives of her classmates, teachers, and community, the guilt eats at her, but coming clean would mean her life will be over. 
This is a rollercoaster of emotions from beginning to end. Great read.
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We all know that the victims and survivors of mass shooting go through a lot... But I personally never fully understood the magnitude of what that is like until I came across Thoughts & Prayers. 

At first, I thought Lily was the main character of the book; however, this book is organized in a way that each character has their chance to share their life from their perspective from the day of the shooting. 

I definitely sympathized with Lily, especially in the beginning of the book, when things got out of control and many people were killed and hurt. I can't imagine being Lily and having to navigate that chaos and guilt trying to hide it from everyone else.  

However, as the story continued, I wholeheartedly empathized with the rest of the victims and survivors of the shooting and could not hold my tears in. In many tragic events, it's easy to focus on the victims, not the survivors including victims' families and friends. But can you imagine having your loved ones taken away from you out of nowhere? 

Reading about how the survivors from the shooting were coping with the tragedy, it gave me a lot to think about: Some people want changes to prevent another mass shooting, some people want to forget everything and slowly move on, and some people cannot simply move on... because they feel guilty for surviving. 

I know simple Thoughts & Prayers are not enough for the survivors and victims of mass shooting. We need systemic changes to keep our children safe from guns and gun violence. I hope that day comes sooner than later.

Although I enjoyed this book a lot, I don't like the cover of the book. The cover design (i.e. picture, fonts, etc.) makes the book look like it's from 90's instead of 2021. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Milford House Press for giving me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Extremely heartbreaking yet unfortunately real. 

Full review to be written as soon as possible. I’m broken after finishing this.
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Thoughts and Prayers is a heart-wrenching story of a school shooting. I've read other books on the subject, but I liked the way this one was done from various perspectives. Many aspects are explored such as survivor's guilt and the push for stronger gun control. We see through the eyes of a grieving parent, friend, and wife. What makes this story unique is the unknown accomplice involved in the event. Reading this brought back memories of hearing these awful stories play out in the news and the lasting effects on the families, school, and community. I am curious how those who have lived through a tragedy such as this one would react to this book and if it reflected their own experiences. While devastating, books like this are important to bring awareness about an epidemic that has swept the nation and a call to action to prevent these senseless acts from occurring again.
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This book....will make you cry, think deeply about a horror that has swept too many of this nation's schools, and leave you with a fight burning in your spirit. Each author in this book did a fantastic job of putting together a heartwrenching read and maybe it's just me but I found myself entranced with Lily. How her choices affected so many people and how she was unwittingly sucked into something so horrible as an accomplice.
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This was a power, emotional and got-wrenching book. I appreciated the multiple perspectives and insights to different characters. I did not expect a few of the surprising twists but they kept the pace moving along well . This was a tough topic and a hard read at times but I highly recommend it.
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This book was powerful! I really enjoyed the perspective the author had on the events and how they faced them as a Christian.
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An emotional read which had me gripped from the first chapter!
Straight-A student Lily Jeong, misunderstood by helicopter parents and ignored by thoughtless classmates, sneaks her manipulative boyfriend into Rockwell High believing he’ll get revenge for her recent public humiliation. But he breaks his promise that no one will get hurt, and minutes later, fourteen people are dead.

Plagued by guilt, Lily invents one lie after another to evade arrest. While devastated survivors grieve, investigators make slow progress identifying the accomplice, and class president Keisha Washington—Lily’s long-time nemesis who narrowly escaped death—resolves to hunt down the culprit herself. As Lily dodges detection, she bonds with Sofia Hernandez, who lost her best friend, Caitlyn Moran, in the shooting.

The adults around them—Joe Hernandez, Sofia’s father, and the first policeman to enter the school; Charmaine Robinson, a nurse whose husband died protecting Keisha; and former Army Colonel Mike Moran, Caitlyn’s father—also struggle to piece together their wrecked lives. When they come together in a support group, instead of finding solace, their mounting feelings of grief and anger drive them to protest and vengeance. Will they ever find justice and peace? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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For some reason I have read a number of books about school shootings, and they're all sad, but this one was so beautifully written that it was sometimes difficult to read. Not just one but several of the characters have passages that I really found to be a lot to handle emotionally. Specifically, the relationship between Cat & Sofia is just wonderful, and I wish that every young girl had a friend like that. Since I do have a friend like that, who I can't imagine losing, their story line was really tough for me to read sometimes. The emotional response I had to her experience really illustrated for me the extreme trauma kids are experiencing when things like this happen or even when they worry about things like this happening. 

I am a Columbine generation kid. We were shocked by Columbine, and though the immediate aftermath was a little scary for a high school freshman, it was an isolated incident on the other side of the country. I never went to school worried that it was going to happen to me. I was never scared that my best friend would be shot in front of me. I never lost a beloved teacher to gun violence or had the police interview me about classmates. The more I read about events like this the more frightening it is that kids today do. They worry about this. They worry about it because it's no longer an isolated incident, it happens literally every year. That's so much scarier than I think most people realize. 

I've read a few books about this kind of event recently, and I really like the way they illustrate the ripple effect of one person's actions and the drastic impact these things have on people's lives. I think it would serve the country well if more people read books like this so they would really understand the magnitude of this problem. Kids shouldn't have to live like this, and after an event everyone agrees.....but two weeks later we're back to normal life. I LOVE that this title calls out the absolute slap in the face that an offer of 'thoughts are prayers' is to kids who need action. 

My only bit of criticism is that I really, truly, deeply hate the cover. Specifically I hate the font of the title & author's name, it's extremely amateurish.
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“Don’t send us your thoughts and prayers. Don’t tell us ‘it is what it is’ and nothing will change. This can’t be how it is. Enough is enough. Don’t tell us your right to own a gun is more important than our right to be alive. We won’t let you. Not anymore.”

I hung onto every word. I cried, I empathized with these characters. Each character so different, and grieving in their own ways. This book was powerful, emotional, and heavy. It’s also something I hope everyone will read. I will be first in line to purchase this book for my personal library when it is released in October. Bravo to the author for giving such a gut wrenching look into a subject that’s so hard to think about. 

Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for allowing me an early read. 10/10 recommend this book to everyone.
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Gripping, frightening, maddening, heart wrenching. This book is all that and more. Told from multiple perspectives, it’s the story of what happens when a teenage girl unwittingly allows her boyfriend access to her school resulting in the shooting deaths of 15 people.  It gives us a glimpse into the psyche of all those affected: students, teachers, families, first responders. A little cliched at times but still worth a read.
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The words THOUGHTS & PRAYERS, uttered so often after tragedy, particularly school shootings have become meaningless. To many those words are lip service and signify, Don’t Expect Change. When a school shooter kills fifteen Lee Anne Post explores the lives of adults and students impacted by the shooting, people who lost friends, children and a spouse and the police officer  father of a girl who wasn’t  shot. 

Told from multiple points of view, THOUGHTS & PRAYERS explores grief compounded by trauma and one girl’s guilt, she let the shooter through a locked door, believing that he wouldn’t actually shoot anyone. Post does an excellent job showing people’s different reactions, their anger, inspiration toward activism and one act of retribution.

I read THOUGHTS & PRAYERS  from start to finish in one setting, captivated by the characters and their individual and collectible responses to tragedy and particularly enjoyed that both adults and teenagers points of view. I wish that THOUGHTS & PRAYERS wasn’t as topical story or was something in the distant history of America. I wish that so many teenagers wouldn’t have to relate to THOUGHTS & PRAYERS.
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