11 recent novels that powerfully tackle gun violence
The effect of gun violence
Gun violence has long been a topic of debate in the U.S., especially given the recent mass shootings have become all too common. When survivors of a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, became powerful activists, they changed the national conversation and got people to speak up and walk out. Ahead are 11 recent novels dealing with gun violence to read and absorb as we wade through this national crisis.
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin
First grader Zach Taylor and his classmates are hidden in a coat closet while a gunman terrorizes their school. In the aftermath of the shooting, with Zach’s older brother as one of the casualties, the Taylor family begins falling apart, forcing young Zach to find his way through the trauma and remember his brother in his own way. Order a copy here.
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
Joan is enjoying the end of a relaxing day at the zoo with her four-year-old son when she hears the sound of nearby gunfire. For the next three hours, Joan is on a whirlwind mission to protect herself and her son from danger, running through the zoo and hiding where she can. Pre-order a copy here ahead of its July release.
Gun Love by Jennifer Clement
Pearl and her mother have adjusted to a life where home is a broken-down car outside a Florida trailer park and everything that comes with it. But when the local pastor begins a “Guns for God” program, that existence is encroached upon by a new, cold, and dangerous element. Order a copy here.
How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister
After being suspended from her job as a high school English teacher for an “outburst,” Anna Crawford is mistakenly named as a suspect in a shooting at her school. Though she’s eventually exonerated, Anna finds her life being picked apart and scrutinized as her community descends into a frenzy of paranoia, suspicion, and grief. Order a copy here.
If We Had Known bt Elise Juska
English professor Maggie Daley is stunned to discover that a local shooting has been perpetrated by one of her own students. Though Maggie herself hadn’t much remembered Nathan Dugan, the shooter, controversy comes to her doorstep when an unearthed essay from her class might have shown signs of the violent episode to come. Order a copy here.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Ani FaNelli has perfectly reinvented herself with a perfect, glamorous job and a perfect, handsome, wealthy fiancé. But the past Ani has been running from for so long is finally threatening to catch up with her, including a traumatic school shooting she wishes she could forget. Order a copy here.
The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
Twelve years ago, tragedy struck Long Acre High School in the form of a school shooting; the few seniors who survived were dubbed “The Ones Who Got Away” by the media. Now, Liv Arias and the other survivors — including her former flame, Finn Dorsey — are returning to Long Acre for a documentary about the event, where old feelings might resurface. Order a copy here.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Fifteen-year-old Will wants revenge for his brother Shawn’s murder and decides to take matters into his own hands and take his brother’s gun. On a long elevator ride down with the gun hidden in his waistband, Will is visited by ghosts from the past who force him to reckon with his decision and with what happened to Shawn. Order a copy here.
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
After being welcomed to a new semester by the principal of Opportunity High School, the students and teachers find themselves trapped in the auditorium as a ruthless shooter begins to open fire. Told through four different perspectives over the course of 54 minutes, the students do what they can to survive one classmate’s deadly revenge. Order a copy here.
A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates
Two families are irrevocably changed and forever linked in Oates' portrait of a deeply American divide. Luther Dunphy, a fervent Evangelical, assassinates an abortion provider in an act he sees as following divine will. The doctor, Augustus Vorhees, leaves behind a wife and children who must reckon with his chosen path and that of his killer. Order a copy here.
Big Guns by Steve Israel
In this biting satire, gun manufacturing CEO Otis Cogsworth attempts to manipulate national legislation to mandate every American citizen own a gun. His plan backfires when a local mayor bans guns in Otis' own hometown, leading to a nasty political battle that brings legions of both anti- and pro-gun into Otis' backyard. Order a copy here.