That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger Review

Summary: It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School massacre. Three years since Leanne lost her best friend, Sarah, in the mass shooting. Everyone knows how Sarah died, proclaiming her faith in a bathroom stall, but Leanne knows that’s not the truth because she was right there. Leanne didn’t tell the truth then and people were hurt, so now that Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about their daughter, this might be Leanne’s only chance to set the record straight. But there are other survivors to say what happened- and didn’t- that day.

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF was one of my first young-adult books (it’s film adaptation made me laugh out loud so much), and I think I also read A Midsummer’s Nightmare around that time. That being said, it was really fun to meet Kody at the I Read YA Event at Book Con 2018, where she signed That’s Not What Happened. She put a star next to her signature in my book because she felt it was the first time that day where her signature actually looked like her signature!


That’s Not What Happened is the first book that I’ve read that centers around a school shooting. As you may imagine, the book felt very current compared to the discussion on gun violence here in the US. No matter your opinions on gun control, That’s Not What Happened is a hard-hitting read that more so focuses on the aftermath and tragedy of the fictional Virgil County High School Massacre. In her introduction in the ARC, she writes that her research was largely based on Columbine and other mass shootings in the US.

The book is told through the present day and flashbacks from the perspective of our main character, Leanne. Like her friends who were also survivors, Lee suffers from PTSD, which felt realistic and was quite gut-wrenching. The book’s plot is honestly a traumatizing experience for Leanne, as she tries to uncover the truth behind the death of her best friend Sarah. Sarah has become a martyr in their community and  the country for supposedly defending her faith before her death. I actually liked the incorporation of religion in this book, as it added more tension. However, it was sad and even demeaning at times when the religious community in Lee’s small Indiana town went too far when defending Sarah.

There are many flashbacks, which directly and indirectly focus on the shooting, including letters from survivors about the victims. Like many elements, the letters are quite emotionally-heavy, as they talk directly about the shooting and the victims themselves. I liked the incorporation of the letters for showing that this horrific day is seen in myriad ways.

Overall, That’s Not What Happened is a emotion-filled read that will keep you turning the pages to find out the truth, like Lee. While there are a few twists, this book is more so about the healing and heartache that Lee and her friends face everyday.

This review is based on an uncorrected proof. By no means being provided this book affect my thoughts and opinions.

That’s Not What Happened comes out on August 28, 2018.

Is That’s Not What Happened on your TBR? Have you read any of Kody Keplinger’s books? Share in the comments!

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