I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood.
Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun.
Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past.
It took a gun to get him into this.
Now he needs a gun to get out.
Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow's headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.
Boy, 4, Shoots, Kills Infant Sister
For ten years that headline plagued Sebastian. You see, he was that young boy who accidentally killed his sister all those years ago. Time may have passed and he had grown up but that moment in time will profoundly affect the rest of his life. A life he has decided needs to come to an end, and soon.
The subject matter for this book is tough. Gun violence, mental illness, and suicide are some serious themes to include into a novel and I have not read one that tackles them from this angle before. I’ll admit I wasn’t even sure if this book was something I wanted to read at first. But man am I glad I did because this book was so poignant and well done. The kind of story that will stay with me.
All the characters were quite complex and added so much depth to the story we are told, none moreso than the main character, Sebastian. Outwardly, he appeared to be the average teenager – had a best friend, interests, and was incredibly skilled at making pizza. But inside he was very troubled and had mapped out the details of how he wanted to die. This wasn’t a sudden decision but had been building inside of him for so long. It broke my heart to see someone as sweet as he feeling so conflicted about the importance of his life. All the pain and guilt he had to live with as he came to terms with what happened… gut-wrenching. A bright light enters the novel amongst all the dark in the form of Aneesa, the new girl who moved into town. She was an incredible joy. She had such a maturity about her for her age and showed so much strength and pride in herself and being a young Muslim woman. She was fun and inspiring and someone Sebastian felt didn’t judged him for his past. I loved all of their pizza making adventures that left my mouth-watering and wishing for recipes to follow along with!
Though this new friendship with Aneesa is such a presence in the novel, I must note that it isn’t meant as a plot point to miraculously save Sebastian, which would be a complete misrepresentation of suicide prevention. This is truly his journey to take on his own, though of course having a supportive friend is extremely important as well. I was on the edge and nervous as I read this. Parts of this novel are hard and brutally honest. And that is what I was looking for when I picked it up. The aftermath for someone in Sebastian’s situation is unimaginable – coming to terms with what happened as you get older, the affects on your family, feeling like everyone you know only sees you as the boy who killed his sister. The author did a phenomenal job capturing his voice in such a believable way.
This book was everything I hoped it would be and more! Not only does it shine awareness on gun violence and suicide, but also Islamophobia as well. I found myself angry every time I had to put it down for real life distractions because I was so invested to how the book would concluded. This is absolutely a must-read!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline