In the vein of This is Where It Ends, this exploration of grief and tragedy in the aftermath of a bomb explosion at a high school is sadly topical and powerfully heartrending.
At 7:45 a.m. a bomb goes off at Edison High.
Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically wounded. Twenty-two are injured. One is blinded.
In the aftermath of the violent tragedy, survive struggle to cope and heal as a result of something they may never understand.
Told in alternating points of view, Red Heart Tattoo deals with issues of violence, death, and trauma in the lives of five teens.
McDaniel's (Reaching Through Time: Three Novellas) timely but predictable melodrama takes place in the months before and after a school bombing. The narrative switches perspectives among a group of high school seniors who represent different social strata but rarely rise above stereotypes. Popular student council president Morgan is dating the school's star athlete, but uncertain about their future. Morgan's best friend Kelli is fed up with the pressures of cheerleading and has grown distant as the result of a breakup and a secret pregnancy. Tattooed Roth has a less-than-stellar record and begins to flirt with Morgan, his longtime crush, despite his friend Liza's jealousy. Meanwhile, two outcasts referred to as "The Watchers" are plotting the bombing. Due to a previous prank, Roth becomes the prime suspect, despite saving Morgan's life, and a romance kindles between them as Morgan struggles to overcome PTSD-induced blindness. Readers don't get to spend much time with individual characters, due to McDaniel's mosaic structure, and the Watchers, presented as a disturbed student and his vulnerable accomplice, offer little exploration into the possible impetus for acts of mass violence. Ages 12-up.