Title: How She Died, How I Lived
Author: Mary Crockett
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
No. of pages: Hardcover, 416 pages
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Date Read: November 13, 2018
I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie–beautiful, saintly Jamie–was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.
On the eve of Kyle’s sentencing a year after Jamie’s death, all the other “chosen ones” are coping in various ways. But out tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.
Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie’s boyfriend–knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?
First, thanks to NOVL and Little, Brown for sending me a copy of this book via giveaway. This was one that I had been looking at as it looked interesting. After reading it, I’m so glad that it was one that I picked up.
If you’ve read this blog at any point, you can probably tell that I don’t read much by the way of contemporary. Many of the contemporary books that I’ve seen just don’t hit me in a way that I like. Mostly, I find them boring because they harp on the most basic of scenarios and most that I’ve read speak to only the best things that could possibly happen. They don’t intrigue me. How She Died, How I Lived is not one of those books. Yes, it is in the most sense, a contemporary novel. But it speaks on a subject that many don’t talk about, or they do, but in whispers.
How She Died, How I Lived is narrated by one of five girls that a man texted one summer day. Four of them ignored him, one of them replied. She, Jamie, became an innocent victim in a gruesome rape/homicide. When we first really get a look from the Narrator’s point of view, a year has passed and the man’s sentencing trial is coming up quickly. We see the Narrator deal with grief, anger, and guilt as she consistently wonders why it had to be Jamie that died, a sweet innocent girl with so much potential, and not her. Along the way, we get to see from our narrator’s point of view the other three girls and how they’re outwardly dealing with being one of five, and as the story continues, a growing interest and involvement with the boyfriend that was left behind.
This story intrigued me for many reasons. We never learn the narrator’s name, we see and feel all of her feelings and emotions and inner thoughts, but never once can we put a name to those emotions that we’re reading. We get to see and understand a part of grief and guilt explained to us in a first-person narrative, which is rare but also puts us in a position to understand as we’re reading it like it was us that it happened to. I thoroughly wanted to know more and more about how the narrator was feeling and how she was holding up. Through her growing relationship with Charlie, I needed to know that he was going to get better, but also, we get to the grief and exhaustion take its toll on those who have lost loved ones to senseless violence.
For those that might have been victims or has known someone to be a victim of a gruesome, senseless, violent crime, this might not be the book for you. There are multiple scenes where it does get a bit detailed as to what exactly happened to Jamie. It’s not pretty, but it’s also not supposed to be. Murders as violent as Jamie’s in the book happen to people, happen to women, every day.
This book is one that is amazingly real and hauntingly poetic. The story is one that could happen at any time and it doesn’t cover the dirt of humanity and the recklessness of human emotion. Instead, it makes you feel and puts you in a position to understand what victims and families of those who have lost loved ones to violence have gone through in their grief and pain. This book is one that I will definitely pick up again.
How She Died, How I Lived was released on Tuesday, Nov. 13th. If you’re looking for a contemporary that isn’t made of feel-good unicorn poop and glitter, this is probably one that you’re looking for. It hits hard, it hits real, and it’s as relevant in this time as ever.