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DEAR CHARLIE BY N.D. GOMES

PUBLISHED BY HARLEQUIN
REVIEW BY KRIS WILLIAMS

Charlie is Sam’s brother. Charlie is dead. Charlie committed a terrible crime. On what seemed to be a day like any other, Charlie went to school and shot fourteen other students before killing himself. 

School shootings are something that has become all too familiar to society. We see an outpouring of grief for those families who are torn apart by what seems to be such a senseless act. But, do we ever stop and think about the parents and siblings of the shooter and what becomes of their lives? How do they grieve?

Sam and his family are left to deal with the media storm and the aftermath of this violent event. The story follows him and how he tries to make sense of things. To Sam, Charlie was not a killer. Charlie was someone he grew up with, had fun with, and he was an artist. Sam struggles with trying to remember if he could have prevented the shootings, and if he saw any warning signs. 

Sam’s family is falling apart. They receive death threats, hate mail, and can’t walk down the street without being abused. The media are always outside their home.  Sam’s parents fight all the time and seem to forget he is there all too often. He can’t go back to school. His friends aren’t allowed to go near him. We watch Sam go through so many emotions as he tries to find his place at a new school and deal with the shape of the world he now finds himself in. Nothing will ever be the same.  

I loved this book, even though it was a very tough subject. I loved how Gomes dealt with all the emotions, and the development of the character of Sam never felt forced or unreal. There is so much more to say about this book. Would thoroughly recommend it for children aged 12 and above.

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.