Bullying and School Shootings As Seen on TV: Criminal Minds- Part 1

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Some of the team from Criminal Minds

Last week, I posted about bullying and school shootings from an episode of the long running TV series, “Crime Scene Investigation.” This week and for the next two after, I will talk about similar episodes from the series, “Criminal Minds.” I’ll start with the earliest episode on the subject and move on to the most recent which was from the current season. Therefore, this post will deal with the fourth episode of season seven entitled “Painless.”

A brief synopsis of the programme: Ten years prior, a school shooting and bombing took place at a high school in Boise, Idaho. As the survivors, along with family and friends of the slain, prepare for the ten year memorial service, the principal of the school is murdered the same way as the shooter had done ten years earlier. While the service is allowed to go on, two of the survivors are also murdered. The investigation by the Criminal Minds team reveals that those two survivors were part of a group called “The Top Ten.” These were students who survived the ordeal and who afterwards, went on tours of schools and talk shows to tell all about what happened on that fateful day. They comprised all the high school social groups, jocks, stoners, nerds, cheerleaders, etc. As the climax unfolds, we learn that one young teen is wrongfully left out and that the one popular boy who was murdered actually lied about his role in the shooting. He said that he was the only one who looked the shooter in the eye when in fact it was the boy who got left out. We also learn that this left out boy was knocked out by the bomb that was set off and therefore, he didn’t get the chance to tell his story. This is why he killed the principal and the other two survivors because he was wrongfully denied his chance at fame. Unfortunately for him, he never will get his chance to tell what really happened because the Criminal Minds team is forced to shoot him dead.

While I was watching it, comparisons and contrasts to my book, “He Was Weird,” came to mind. First the contrasts: Unlike Mark in my book, the shooter in the Criminal Minds episode was a popular kid and captain of the wrestling team. That is what befuddled investigators as to why he carried out the massacre. It also turned out that he had assistance from another boy who was never suspected because at the time of the shooting/bombing, he was satisfying his marijuana addiction. Mark, on the other hand, was the complete opposite of this guy, badly bullied and totally acted alone. Another contrast is that after the shooting on the TV show, the shooter’s family becomes national pariahs and are unable to move out of Boise. Contrast that to Mark’s family where his mother reverts back to her maiden name and with the help of relatives, are able to relocate to another state. And although the school officials know about what Mark has done, they are willing to give his younger sister and brother a fair chance.

Similarities between the programme and the book come in the fact that “He Was Weird,” ends with the ten year memorial service of the shooting. At the end of the programme, those at the service light a candle to honour the dead with each person lighting a candle and saying the name of someone who died that day. The younger brother of the shooter, who was killed in the bomb blast, says the name of his older brother. At the ten year service at the end of “He Was Weird,” Mark’s sister points out that actually eighteen people died that fateful day and not the seventeen that had been talked about for the past ten years since her brother carried out the shooting.

On a personal note, one thing I gleaned from this particular episode was the comment that even after high school, the social structures don’t change. The “Top Ten” still thought they had an air of privilege about them, even ten years after graduation. When I came out of the marines, four years after graduation, I ran into three of the jocks and outside a bar and had a beer with them. I thought that the high school group crap was no more. However, when I saw one of them a two months later, he said “hi” to me in a patronizing tone. I took this to mean that even though I had served in the marines, I wasn’t good enough for him. Maybe he was still in high school in his mind. I didn’t let it get to me and if I did manage to get to a high school reunion, I wouldn’t be ashamed of who I’ve become and what I’ve accomplished in my life.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491412808&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

Bullying and School Shootings From TV- CSI

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As I stated in my last post, there are over fifty books that deal with school shootings, many of which show the shooter as a victim of bullying. My book, He Was Weird, is one of those. However, in spite of all of these books, Hollywood has not picked up on this and made any films about school shootings. In fact, the only movie I know of about a school shooting is a BBC production of Lionel Shriver’s book, “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” I wasn’t too impressed with the film as it left out what I felt were important parts of the story and the shooting scene was crap. Lionel should sue. Fortunately, television hasn’t been afraid to deal with the subjects of bullying and school shootings and I will be looking at these in my next few posts.

Scene from the Bully for You episode on CSI.

The first one I know about appeared in Season 2 of “Crime Scene Investigation,” CSI for short. The title of the particular episode explains it all, “Bully for You.” It opens with the discovery of a dead body of a boy in the boys’ bathroom of a local high school. Almost immediately, the investigation of the CSI team uncovers the fact that the dead boy was a high school bully. Therefore, all of the victims of the bully are interviewed who tell their individual stories of how they were bullied, some are rather bad, but it is deduced that none of them could have shot the bully.

Further interviews and the obvious great forensic work by the CSI team lead to the inevitable twist in the story. In the end, it is discovered that the shooter was a female guidance counselor at the school. A background check showed that she was traumatised by an school shooting at her previous school, where she was assistant principal and happened two weeks after Columbine. At that school, one day, eleven people were shot and killed by the shooter. She explained it all happened because some Sophmore  didn’t like people making jokes about his glasses. That was her justification for shooting the bully. It was better to shoot one bully than to have a mass shooting like the one she experienced. Does she have a point? Maybe, but it was no excuse for murder.

What I liked about this particular episode was that it neither glorified the bully or justified the murder. For me, it reinforced my belief that bullying is wrong but there are better more effective means of dealing with it than taking lives.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490815891&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

Literary Cyber Bullying- He Was Weird

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There are now over fifty books about school shootings. In fact, school shootings has become its own sub-genre in books. I am proud to say that “He Was Weird” is one of them. Because there are so many books on the subject, I, as an author, have to explain how my book is different. While I haven’t read all fifty books, I can talk about the other four I’ve read and posted about on here.

One big difference between “He Was Weird” and the other four books is that when you begin reading the story in those other books, the school shooting has already taken place. Each of them go back in time before the shooting and talk about all the events which lead up to the big event. While doing so, they present reasons as to why the shooting happened in the story. Well, I don’t do that in my book. “He Was Weird” opens with the family moving to the new town and Mark, the protagonist, excited about his new adventure. As the story progresses, we read how Mark is worn down by the constant bullying to the point that he finally snaps and shoots up his school. All events are as they happen and not told past tense like the others. One point I take great compliment in is that some of those who read “He Was Weird” were hoping that somehow Mark wouldn’t go through with the atrocity he commits. That hope has been a good hook in the story.

The other difference is the amount of cyber bullying that goes on. In the other four stories, there is very little if any in each of them. Even in the one book I feature in my last post, there isn’t a whole lot. That is different in “He Was Weird.” Mark is subjected to some really bad cyber bullying. Most of it was on Facebook where the other children do say horrible things about him. One instance is a pretend post onto Mark’s Facebook wall, supposedly from his hero, hockey star Kip McClary, who says that he doesn’t want a faggot like Mark as one of his fans. Another is the use of mobile phone camera where someone films Mark getting badly bullied and then uploads it onto the site. On the morning of the day Mark becomes a pop star, he reads some more mean comments from people online and that only strengthens his resolve to carry out his massacre.

On the other hand, Mark does use social media to his advantage for his big day. On the day after the shooting, the reader discovers Mark’s dying declaration on Facebook. He names some of his worst bullies and states that he is going to get his revenge. He also lets everyone know how mean they were to him and that they won’t escape his wrath either. That post has its backers and haters. While friends and relatives of the victims of Mark’s carnage say horrible things, there are others praising him for having the courage to do what he did. When it is finally taken off Facebook, his dying declaration has over 1000 ‘Likes.’

The cyber bullying I write about in the book is totally from the recesses of my imagination. Unlike the other bullying experiences Mark faces, it isn’t based on anything I experienced directly. Social media and the internet didn’t exist when I was going through all that hell forty years ago. That’s probably a good thing because if my bullying experiences had been in modern times, I’m sure those who bullied me in the physical sense would have bullied me online as well. Probably more because there would have been those who would have hurled insults at me under a cloak of anonymity. So, I dodged a bullet there but I am still very supportive of anyone who falls victim to this type of bullying.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490044713&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

Literary Cyber Bullying- Rupture

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My last post about the horrible new cyber bullying game and the brave young lady who spoke out against it gave me incentive for this and my next post. I was always intending to write one or more posts about cyber bullying and after last week, this is as good a time as any.

Like I have done with several topics, I have decided to look at cyber bullying through the books I often cover on Peaceful Rampage. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no cyber bullying in either “We Need to Talk About Kevin” or “Endgame.” In Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes,” the only instance is when the bullies spam their victim’s personal email to a girl he likes all around the school. That leaves my own book, “He Was Weird” and Simon Lelic’s “Rupture.” It’s the latter, I’ll focus on in this post.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, “Rupture” is about a teacher who is bullied by both colleagues and pupils to the point where he snaps and carries out a school shooting. The police detective assigned to investigate the shooting uncovers something called the “Bum Blog,” which is written by pupils and hurls insults at this particular teacher. What’s worse is the fact that the Head Teacher knows about this bullying blog but allows to go on because of free speech. Simon Lelic only treats us to a few highlights of some of the things written in the “Bum Blog” but it is enough to let us know that this blog is nasty. A clear cut case of cyber bullying and it leaves the detective with little doubt as to why the teacher shot up his school. Further proof that even in fiction, cyber bullying stinks.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489443538&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

A New Cyber Bullying Game and the Girl Who Stood Up To It

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Last night, while reading my Google Alerts for Bullying, I came across a very interesting but disturbing story. The link on the alert led me to an article about a new bullying game on Snapchat. In this game, players are encourage to come up with the worst possible insults they can hurl at another person, be it about their appearance, personality, weight or anything else. My reaction to this was, “Who in their right mind would come up with something like this?” I mean isn’t there enough crap in the world without people wanting to hurt others through a game. The article was published in several British newspapers so the game might be just in the UK, although it will probably spread world wide if allowed to continue. Personally, if it does, I think that any victim of this Snapchat abuse should do the American thing and sue the game’s creator. Obviously, there are a lot of sickos in the world.

Rachaele Hambleton and her 12 year old daughter Betsy

Fortunately, this story has a happy side to it. One 12 year old girl from Devon, UK named Betsy Chamberlain stood up to all those who play this game. She wrote her own story on Snapchat saying how disgusting this game was and it was cruel and mean and that she would have no part in playing it. Betsy’s mother, Rachaele Hambleton states how proud she is of her daughter for taking this stand against this horrible bullying game. Well Rachaele, I’m proud of Betsy too for the same reasons. Rachaele has now written about this game in her own blog, Part Time Working Mummy, to warn people of the potential dangers of this game. She has also alerted many parents to it as well. Hopefully, this will go far in getting victims to speak out if they are being bullied online or anywhere else.

An additional thought, inspired by my beautiful Aspergers mind, came from the only online comment on the article. It simply states, “Now blogger is an employment option.” You sorely missed the point here mate. Yes the mother works part time and yes she writes a blog but she doesn’t do it for a living. I don’t know anyone who writes a blog for a living. In my case, there is a indirect financial motive for writing Peaceful Rampage and that is so you will all go out and buy my book, “He Was Weird.” But I work a full time job plus two part time ones and none of them are to do with blogging. The thing is that Rachelle Hambleton wrote her article in order alert others to the dangers of this game and to rightfully give praise to her daughter Betsy for being brave and standing up for what she believed was wrong. I praise Betsy too.

To view the newspaper article in The Sun, here’s the link: https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/3016323/mum-horrified-when-daughter-tells-her-about-new-snapchat-bullying-game-but-is-left-proud-by-her-response/

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488915055&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

I Should Have Told My Story

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With all my reflection of my past, another ‘what if’ arises to play with my Asperger’s mind. This one goes back to late 1986, early 87 when I attended Queen Mary College in London. During that time, I was feeling very angry towards the United States after receiving a letter that for me at the time was the straw that broke the camel’s back and had me declaring that I hated my country. That event was the Veteran’s Administration refusing to give me any of my Veteran’s Education money on the grounds that my course of study wasn’t approved.

I told my immediate friends, both American and British, about my feelings and all of them were very sympathetic towards me. However, I toyed with the idea that I should tell my story to the college newspaper. I thought it might be a good story about how an American veteran is being so badly treated by his country. I’m sure that many a British student and a good number of Americans would have been surprised and impressed at what I had to say. So why didn’t I?

The main reason was that I was afraid of being thought of as an attention seeker. This was something I was accused of being in my childhood and in my young adult life, I went too far the other way out of fear of being thought of as such. Furthermore, there was the two extremes of British politics at the college. On the left, I would have been seen as a martyr against the Imperialist American state. The positive being that they would have jumped on my story as proof of how America treats the working class, even though they served the country. I know I would have been caught up in that furor. Meanwhile, the right would have been quick in their attempts to discredit me. They would have tried to make me out to be some whinging crybaby and downplay the validity of my accounts. Not that I feared anything from them really. Then of course, it would have put the other American students in an awkward situation, again, I wouldn’t have cared too much about that. However, most would have said nothing in public while secretly wishing me that it all would work out for me.

Another thing to note would be the fact that I would have said something a few British students might not have liked. See, during my year at Queen Mary, there was this stereotype by British students that all American ones were filthy rich. That surely didn’t apply to me and because of that, I would have attacked that stereotype. Some British students would have taken offense to that. I don’t think the college administration would have been too happy with me either for accusing the college of thriving on the myth that all American students were rich. In my defense, I would have likened myself to Fredrick Douglas, an escaped slave who spoke for the abolitionist cause. When he was talking about slavery in the South, he was a hero but when he spoke out against prejudice in the North, it didn’t sit too well with people. It might have been the same with me in regards to the US and the UK.

In hindsight, I think that I should have told my story to the college paper, warts and all. I would have gotten it all off my chest and not have been such an angry young man. I realize now that most of my anxieties over why I didn’t do it wouldn’t have impacted much on my story and it would have explained a lot to people about me. It wouldn’t have been attention seeking either and I think that people might have been generally interested in what I had to say. Of course, if there were blogs thirty years ago, it would have been that much easier.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488318403&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

The Role of Music in Literary School Shootings: He Was Weird

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mybookcover

After reviewing two prominent books about the role of music in the school shootings which take place in their stories, I have decided to write about my own novel, “He Was Weird.” Before I launch, I would like to point out that, originally, I read both “Nineteen Minutes” and “Endgame” while I was writing my own story out of fear of being accused of plagiarism. Those fears were put to rest quite quickly although reading about the role of music on those stories gave me ideas for my own in that regard.

Mark, the protagonist from the story, is never really into music. In fact, in one scene, he states that Marilyn Manson is Satanic. Therefore, you, the reader, don’t really get much insight into his musical tastes because there is none to get. However, after Mark carries out his big atrocity by shooting up his school, it doesn’t stop some people from insisting that he was driven to his crime by music. During a phone in radio programme, some caller insists that he Marilyn Manson and violent video games were the reasons behind Mark’s killing spree. Even the talk show host downplays those comments.

Marilyn Manson-

Marilyn Manson-

The argument that music was at fault for Mark’s school frenzy doesn’t end with the radio phone in. Maybe one of the officers from the Ramsgate Police Department was listening to the broadcast because when they go to Mark’s house and confiscate his things, they do so with the idea of him being under the influence of films, games or music. Sadly for them, they find nothing to substantiate their claim. The only computer games they find are the Age of Empires games and an ice hockey game. Though that doesn’t stop some from stating that Mark’s amazing ability to play the Age of Empires games influenced his decision to shoot up his school. As a result and I’m going off track a little here, parents of the victims try to use it to get a teacher at the school fired and one tries to sue Microsoft. The same goes for films. The only two they find are for “Saving Private Ryan” and “A Bridge Too Far.” Both are bloody World War II films but no one would want to admit that they were an influence on a school shooting. Although watching those films before the big day does help de-sensitize Mark to all the blood he sees when he shoots everyone. That leaves music. Well, the police only find two CDs belonging to Mark. One his a commercial rock sounding band called the Guiding Lights and the other is a hardcore thrash metal band called Demonslayer. However, despite the different genres, both bands have one thing in common, they’re both Christian rock bands! After a couple of songs about Jesus on both CD’s, the cops have to conclude that music couldn’t have influenced Mark to shoot up his school.

After much thought and four posts, I am left to conclude that music has very little or nothing to do with anyone shooting up their school. There are other factors as to why this happens and often the case, as in the three books, it is bullying. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to accept that bullying may have something to do with it and find it easier to blame music no matter how preposterous it might sound. I think that until something changes, then music will continue to be wrongly blamed for terrible tragedies.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487691409&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Role of Music in Literary School Shootings: Endgame

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endgame

As there were no victories for the bullies to post about, I am able to continue my theme of the role of music in school shootings in books. This post looks at the novel “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden.

R.I.P Nancy Garden

 Nancy Garden

Since it’s been awhile since I have posted anything relating to this very good novel, I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick run through. The story is about a boy named Gray Wilton who is on trial for shooting four of his fellow students dead and wounding several others at his school. “Endgame” is centred around the conversations between Gray and his lawyer. Gray tells the lawyer all about the bullying he had suffered at the hands of the jocks at the school. Many of the things done to him are some of the most horrible account of bullying I have ever read about. It’s no wonder why in the end, Gray snaps in the way he does.

Now the million dollar question: What did music have to do with the shooting? In this case, the answer is fairly straight forward. Gray is a really good drummer. So good in fact that he plays at the Christmas concert. Unfortunately, this also leads to another bullying incident because right before the concert, his bullies destroy his drum kit. Furthermore, Gray does find relief in music and that is used against him after he carries out the shooting. Pupils and teachers say that he’s into rebellious rap music and heavy metal, although that’s never mentioned in the story. However, it is enough for many out there to conclude that Gray was influenced by music to carry out his crimes. Once again, we see music being wrongly blamed for a shooting just because it is easy to do so.

Actually, Endgame had me reflecting back to the Jonesboro, Arkansas shooting. I keep thinking of that teacher saying about one of the shooters that, “He was a fine boy before he started listening to that Tu-Pac Shaker and Bugs Harmony.” I wonder if Nancy was thinking the same when she wrote “Endgame.” Unfortunately, she is not with us to ask her. Still, I think she would agree that blaming music for Gray’s actions is completely ridiculous.

To buy He Was Weird go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487108071&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher Suspended for Showing Anti- Bullying Film, Outrageous!

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Instead of my intended post, I decided to post about an event I read online tonight. A teacher in North Carolina was suspended for showing an anti- bullying film to her class. The film in question is called “All You Need is Love.” It’s about a world where homosexuality is the norm and straight people are denounced for their lifestyle choices.

Ashley is a young girl born of two normal mothers. She discovers she has a liking for boys which is against the norms of this particular society. Her peers find out about her hetro-sexuality and begin bullying her for it. Like many victims of homophobic bullying, those in authority like teachers blame Ashley for her suffering on account that she is straight. Her parents aren’t much help either. When she is badly beaten up, all Ashley’s parents can talk about is moving out of the town. In the end, Ashley takes her own life.

Having watched the film, I can say that there is nothing shocking, inappropriate or unusual about it. The bullying Ashley suffers is typical of the bullying many people suffer, I know, I suffered it too. So my question is, why are so many parents up in arms about it. Furthermore, I think that suspending the teacher over it is overreacting in a big way. My first thought is that this type of thing is typical of America. Something that appears controversial takes place and the knives and torches come out before all of the facts are known. What’s also an interesting note is that most of the pupils who saw the film were not upset by it. Rather, they saw the anti bullying message in it.

Okay, the vehicle in which the anti bullying message may seem quite controversial. After all, we don’t live in a world where homosexuality is the norm, it’s still more the reverse. However, bullying knows no bounds and can happen anywhere for anything. I know that all too well too. Therefore, I think it was right of this teacher to show the film and alert children to the dangers of bullying as it can happen anywhere.

To view the film: http://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/teacher-suspended-after-showing-students-anti-bullying-video/491662577

The Role of Music in Literary School Shootings: Nineteen Minutes

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Riding on the momentum from my last post about the influence of music in school shootings, I will look at this through some of the books I’ve posted about in the past. All of them are about school shootings. This post takes on Jodi Picoult’s best seller, “Nineteen Minutes.” For those who haven’t read it, it’s about a boy named Peter Houghton, who is so badly bullied, he goes into the school one day and shoots ten people dead and wounds eight more. The book goes back and forth between the events that led up to the shooting and those that come after and it’s very well done in my view.

After the shooting in the story, the police search Peter’s room and remove all sorts of evidence. Among all the books and online instructions on how to make bombs, they also take his DVD’s, one of which is “Bowling for Columbine,” and his CD collection. One of the albums taken is from a band called Death Wish and on the album is a song called “Judgement Day,” which many people say the lyrics of the song vividly describe the setting behind Peter’s shooting up of his school. Needless to say, many people begin to blame heavy metal music.

Not too much further along in the story, the lead singer of Death Wish and I love this name, Raven Napalm, gives a press conference. In it, he states that no one says anything when America sends kids overseas to fight and die for oil but when one kid fails to see the beauty of life and shoots up his school, then everyone points fingers at heavy metal music. Maybe he’s got a point here. Unfortunately, except for the fact that Peter listens to heavy metal in general, not much more is said on the subject.

What I found amusing is Jodi’s description of Mr. Napalm. It is practically Marilyn Manson to a tee. The black hair, eye shadow and lip piercings described in Raven Napalm’s appearance immediately brought Marilyn’s image to mind. Furthermore, Marilyn did say something along the same lines as his fictional counter part after Columbine. I am not suggesting she plagiarized anything, she didn’t. However, I do think she was very influenced by Columbine and Marilyn Manson, not that there is anything wrong with that.

Marilyn Manson- could this be Jodi Picoult's Raven Napalm?

Marilyn Manson- could this be Jodi Picoult’s Raven Napalm?

In short, I’m glad that in “Nineteen Minutes” Jodi seems to reject the notion that music had anything to do with the shooting in the story. All throughout the book, Peter is described as a loner and a victim and that heavy metal was his way of dealing with all the crap he was getting on a daily basis. Point, not everyone who listens to metal is a bullied loner. I just wanted to get that out because for me, “Nineteen Minutes” deals with the real issues that led to the shooting, the main one of these was the bullying.

Next post: Endgame by Nancy Garden

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485979678&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird