The staff and students of the Opportunity High School in Opportunity, Alabama, are gathered in the auditorium for the principal's traditional "beginning-of-the-semester" speech.
Well, most of them are.
The track team is outside, training. Tomás and Fareed have broken into the administration office, looking for someone's permanent record.
Principal Trenton always gives the same speech, and it always ends at 10:00 a.m. sharp. But this time, when the class bell rings and people begin shuffling towards the exits, they can't get out.
At 10:05 a.m., a shot rings out.
This gripping story is told from the perspectives of four different students: Tomás, his twin sister Autumn, her best friend Sylv(ia), and track runner Claire. Each chapter contains a few paragraphs from the viewpoint of each, as well as screenshots of texts from others.
The story unfolds in real time over the course of 54 minutes, and can almost be read that way.
Marieke Nijkamp did extensive research on school shootings, reading investigators' reports and first-hand accounts, listening to recordings of 911 calls, and studying the psychology of being held at gunpoint. This has resulted in a piece of fiction that feels very realistic. It's a frightening reflection of the times we live in, and should be required reading for all high school staff, students, and parents.