Offers an account of the extraordinary teenage survivors of Parkland who became activists and pushed back against the NRA and Congressional leaders, inspiring millions of Americans to join their grassroots #neveragain movement.
Parkland by Dave Cullen is one of the most uplifting books you will read all year ... At a time of such national exhaustion, a book about a school shooting may not be the one you’re inclined to pick up off the shelf. Do it anyway. Parkland is a balm ... For a politics-hardened reader, stories of earnest activism and kids changing the world are boring at best, insultingly cliche at worst. Cullen deftly navigates what could have easily been a sentimental and patronizing story (not to mention a tedious one) ... Cullen does not bore us with banalities or mawkishness. He manages to use the word 'resilience' only once ... But the real genius of Parkland isn’t that it’s an inspirational tome. Instead, it’s practically a how-to guide for grass-roots activism ... Cullen is an adept storyteller, synthesizing a cacophony of voices and using his own simply to carry a reader cleanly through ... Parkland is a story touched by trauma, but it is not a story of trauma. It is a story born of violence, but it is not a story of violence. Instead, it is something both braver and more precise: It is the story of a carefully planned rebellion.
In his new book, Cullen spends barely three pages on the Parkland gunman, giving just the barest biographical details, mostly about his depression, and referring to him only as the 'mass murderer.' It’s a noble goal, to refuse to feed our fascination with the deranged teenage killer or provide the convenient horror movie plot ... But that commitment also presents a separate narrative challenge, which is how to create a story with drama and tension. Cullen spent the 11 months after the shooting following the kids, which is enough time to plot the stages of their crusade but not necessarily enough to understand their internal struggles ... I did find myself wishing for some more depth, detail or psychological complexity, something to cement these extraordinary kids in the public imagination so that we’d never forget what they somehow managed to pull off.
Cullen traces the movement from the students’ early meetings in their living rooms and first forays onto Twitter. He marks the instant when their Instagram feeds turned from sunsets and selfies to toe-to-toe battles with the National Rifle Association ... Parkland tells their story well and truly. It’s written with the clarity and depth and time — that’s the big thing, time — that the students who died and the students who live deserve, and that the nation grappling with it all needs. I was moved and informed and, most of all, heartbroken by it — even though it’s written with authentic hope.