This Is Not a Drill
By Beck McDowell
Available October 2012
When high school seniors—and former couple—Emery and Jake find themselves held hostage in a first grade classroom, they must do all they can to protect the kids. Brian Stutts, a U.S. soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in Iraq, pulls out his gun to convince the teacher to hand over the son he’s not allowed to check out because of a custody battle. The situation turns deadly when a security guard appears at the door and Stutts impulsively opens fire. When the teacher is carried from the room, the children’s fate is in the hands of Emery and Jake. While Jake searches for a way to communicate with the policemen surrounding the building, Emery, fighting her shyness, fear, and POTS symptoms, tries to reach out to the soldier. She gains a new understanding of what he faced in Iraq, and discovers remarkable strength in his small son.
This Blonde’s Review:
This book can speak to so many people in the wake of so much violence in schools over the last several years. Except this school is an elementary school, and the man doing the threatening is a US Soldier.
Jake and Emery have a past that they’ve had to work around for the sake of tutoring together. When Brian Stutts takes over their classroom they have to work together to keep the children in their care safe.
Jake is easy to like as we watch him try to get the kids out without Stutts realizing he’s communicating with the outside. We’re supposed to be unsure of him since we see also see the side to him where he ruined things with Emery without even thinking of the consequences.
Emery has had issues of her own, including the pain of what happened between her and Jake. She refuses to fall apart in front of the children and does her best to understand what’s happening. We’re able to get to know Stutts and his motivations through Emery. It’s rare that we can hate the “villain” and feel bad for him at the same time.
This book dealt with a heavy topic but wasn’t heavy handed about it. It was easy to get drawn in and want to race to find out what happened. I don’t want to give too much away, but I have to say that I think this one was rather well rounded. It wasn’t too ‘easy’ of an ending, yet it wasn’t looking for the most heartbreaking way of ending either. It leaves the characters wondering what is really important in their lives when it could be cut short unexpectedly?
This one was a little tough for me in some ways since I do have small children who coincidentally go to an elementary school with the same (common) name. And I am more than familiar with the military community, so put those two together and it’s enough to break my heart. Since the author seemed to make this book more about life than sorrow it wasn’t something that was hard to read, instead it had me torn in what I hoped would happen.
If the description sounds interesting to you and books where teenagers have to step up and keep others safe, then you’ll enjoy this one.