That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger | Review

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Release Date: August 28th, 2018

Dates Read: September 2nd 2018 to September 2nd 2018

Trigger Warnings: graphic descriptions of school shooter situation, mentions of drug-addicted parents (meth & heroin), mentions of alcohol abuse, PTSD, anxiety

Pages: 336

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance, LGBT+

Goodreads blurb:

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story–that she died proclaiming her faith.

But it’s not true.

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did–and didn’t–happen that day.

Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .



I was really excited to go into That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger. The concept of six survivors of a school shooting who come together to write the truth of what happened. However, that is not what this book is at all. It was a bland looking through the eyes of a character with no personality. There is no reference to the school shooter throughout the story, his name is redacted as well. It really felt as if we were excluded from the narrative by the author doing that. I’ll talk more about that later, but this story was really underwhelming. The author tried to create a hard-hitting story but ultimately succeeded in creating a lacklustre story that didn’t hold any voice.

The idea of this book was incredibly interesting. Leanne (aka Lee) tells this story through factoids about those who passed, the letters of survivors and just the voice of herself. Her idea is inspired by telling the truth and really just sharing what really happened to her that day. The idea of telling the truth was absolutely interesting and I really thought it would have been more interesting. Can I say that? I don’t know. It was just so flat.

I should probably mention the names of the survivors or else I may forget to mention it. There was Lee, Danny, Ashley, Kylie, Eden and Miles.

Lee’s truth was definitely the most interesting of the six, however, I was more interested in Danny and his guide dog Glitter’s story. Lee’s best friend was murdered in the shooting and Lee held her while she died. Sarah was a Christian girl in the community but no one knew the real her. So when a cross necklace is found in the bathroom where Sarah died and someone shares the fact they heard that the shooter shot Sarah because of her faith, no one questions it. Even when the real owner, Kylie, comes forward. In fact, the real owner of the necklace is chased out of town.

Lee literally has no personality, at all. She is so damn bland and it is clear that she is the kind of friend that adapts to your personality and is just a people pleaser. It is beyond clear when she begins to harass Kylie and Miles into sharing her truth despite the fact they are uncomfortable and simply don’t want to – which is fair. The fact that she literally harassed them is only mentioned briefly and then never brought up again with is slightly frustrating because she is never held accountable for her actions.

Every character bar Lee was interesting as well. Which was so damn annoying. I don’t know why Lee had to be the lead narrator because it just ruined the story honestly. The best part and only interesting part of the character was that she says she is asexual on the page.

However, there is a romance included between Miles and Lee, which was weak. It really let down the story and didn’t add anything to the book. I hate when romances are just included for the heck of it and that is definitely what happened in That’s Not What Happened.

Overall, I really can’t say too much about this book. It was incredibly boring and it definitely does justice to the content it was trying to provide. I don’t even know how to word it. You know when a book is just super bland and you wish it was told from literally anyone’s perspective apart from the main characters? That is what That’s Not What Happened is to me. I definitely don’t recommend it.


Happy reading everyone!

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2 thoughts on “That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger | Review

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