Posted on | March 6, 2010 | 15 Comments
We live in a world of the Columbine High School shootings, the Red Lake High School shootings and the Virginia Tech shootings. Something pushes people to pull the trigger on innocent people, and hard as we may try, the horror that ensues just cannot be justified. In Simon Lelic’s debut novel, Rupture, the shooter, Mr. Samuel Szajkowski, was a teacher at a London public school. At assembly one morning, he shot three students and one teacher, before turning the gun on himself.
The novel reads as a fast paced mystery novel, despite the perpetrator of the crime already being dead. Inspector Lucia May is in charge of what seems to be a fairly straightforward case, and her superior wants a to-the-point report, which will close the case for good. However, Lucia starts looking into the “why” of things, as opposed to immediately closing the case as her boss wanted her to, which annoys him to no end.
It’s a book about bullying, physical and verbal, and the unfairness of it all; how some people get away scott-free, whereas some people feel compelled to act in a rash manner. No one said life’s fair, but when you’re pushed, how far will you go?
It’s undoubtedly an ambitious novel, with the testimonies of fifteen people interleaved with May’s account of how the investigation is progressing (as well her own life, and contemplations). The voices of the fifteen people sound real – ranging from fellow teachers to students to parents, and the reader feels as though they have been given the whole story – not just one side of it.
However, and here’s the BIG however, some things about this book really annoyed me. For some reason, people in this country have decided that saying “should of” instead of “should have” and “would of” instead of “would have” is acceptable. Every time I see something like that, I wince. When the students’ accounts are peppered with these, it’s almost (but not quite) acceptable. However, when teachers and parents use the same, it just sounds wrong! The author really should of done better with that.
Second, and this might stem from my doubts about twenty-first century technology in books – the author manages to bring in bullying via text messages (and in text speak, no less) as well as mentioning Facebook. The latter seems to be more “name-dropping” than anything else, and it just makes the novel feel so current.
Finally, some parts of this book seem unbelievable. I studied in an all-girls school, which had uniforms, daily inspection and severe disciplinary actions for any small wrong-doing. I’ve been asked to stand outside the classroom for looking at my watch during Chemistry, so, you get the picture. I just can’t imagine a school where bullying, taunting and being undisciplined is overlooked, and the students and teachers responsible aren’t reprimanded at all.
Oh, and while the below quote has absolutely nothing to do with the story, I could so relate, and thought I’d share it.
The books filled the shelves the landlord had left for her, as well as her IKEA bookcase. She liked to let her eyes gaze upon the spines. She liked being able to identify a book without being close enough to read its title. The battered corners, the creases on the cover – they were a mark of familiarity. They were a comfort.
Have you read any books on school shootings? What did you make of them? Do you think anything can justify it?