Neely, Kindra. Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting. Little, Brown and Company, 2022. 978-0-316-46208-2. 304 p. $24.99. Grades 8-12.
The impact of a mass shooting continues long after the crime scene has been restored and the headlines pivot to a new story. Kindra Neely learned this firsthand after she survived a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, which left ten people dead and as many injured. (Ironically, Kindra’s mother had relocated them to Oregon in part to escape the gun culture/violence in their small Texas town.) After graduating from UCC, Kindra attempted suicide when her feelings of pointlessness and numbness overwhelmed her. She kept this attempt secret for years. Later, after matriculating at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design, she continued to suffer from racing thoughts and panic attacks as a result of the trauma she had experienced. Ongoing news alerts to other mass shootings re-traumatized her time and again. Eventually, she began to heal and found a way to use her artwork to share her story. The end result is this lovely, introspective graphic memoir in which Kindra bravely shares her survivor’s journey. The color palette is generally cued to Kindra’s emotions; in particular, depictions of her panic attacks are visceral and vivid. She includes moments of despair, anger, hope, and gratitude. She also includes resources for gun violence survivors and suicide prevention.
THOUGHTS: This graphic memoir deserves a spot in every library for teens. As mass shootings continue, sadly the need for survivors to voice their stories will, too.
Woodfolk, Ashley. Lux: The New Girl. Penguin Workshop. 2020. 978-0-593-09602-4. 139 pp. $15.99. Grades 6-9.
Lux Ruby Lawson has had a default setting – pissed – ever since her dad left. She was kicked out of her old school for fighting, and her mom has put her on notice: if she messes up again, she’ll have to go live with the father who walked out on her, the same father who just welcomed a new baby girl. Lux wants to stay out of trouble, but when a classmate pushes her too far the ensuing scuffle is captured on multiple cell phone cameras. Lux is expelled and relocated to her dad’s apartment. Through a connection and a strong interview, she’s accepted at Augusta Savage School of the Arts in Harlem, to pursue her interest in photography. She makes friends with the “Flyy Girls,” Noelle, Tobyn, and Micah (each of whom takes center stage in subsequent installments of the Flyy Girls series). But Lux worries about what will happen if the videos of the fight resurface and her new friends discover the past she’s kept hidden. Ashley Woodfolk packs a lot into just 141 pages: family dynamics, friend drama, mild romance, school pranks, and even a photography assignment for the school paper. Each character’s personality is vibrant and distinct, and Lux is believably flawed. Her evolution, from a girl who settles scores with a punch to a more mature friend and daughter, is the endearing core of the novel.
THOUGHTS: Lux: The New Girl is an excellent hi-lo series starter to add to school library collections, and more importantly to read and discuss with students. It would pair well with Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence by Joel Christian Gill for a professional book study.