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Editors, Contributors To Read From & Discuss ‘If I Don’t Make It, I Love You’



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According to The Washington Post, more than 228,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since the shootings at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. This database includes only students inside of their school at the time of the incident. It does not include the voices of parents, siblings, grandparents, and even teachers.

Published in September, If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings presents a collection of 60 narratives. C.H. Booth Library will host a reading and discussion based on the book on Thursday, November 21, from 6 to 8 pm. The book’s editors and five of its contributors are all planning to participate.

Giving voice to 83 survivors of gun violence — teachers in schools where shootings occurred, family members, and community leaders — If I Don’t Make It, I Love You covers 50 years of shootings in America, from the August 1, 1966, University of Texas at Austin tower shooting to the May 18, 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting.

Edited by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman, the 512-page hardbound book (Skyhorse Publishing) offers a contribution to the continuing national dialogue on gun reform.

The book’s title comes from a text sent from inside Parkland High School on February 14, 2018. The text was sent to Stacy Crescitelli, whose 15-year-old daughter Sarah was hiding in a closet, fearing for her life, while a gunman sprayed her school with bullets, killing friends of Sarah, along with teachers and coaches.

The book’s foreword was written by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was among those killed at Parkland High School. His offering is titled “The Final Seconds.”

Each of the book’s 21 chapters — each devoted to a mass shooting — opens with notes from one of the editors, and a list of those killed at each incident. The chapter devoted to the Sandy Hook School shootings includes submissions from Cindy Clement Carlson, an SHS librarian working that morning; Abbey Clements, a second grade teacher at SHS on 12/14; Geneva Cunningham, a fourth grade student at SHS — and whose mother was teaching just down the hall from her classroom — when the shootings took place; Susie Ehrens, whose two children were students at SHS on 12/14, and whose daughter was in Victoria Soto’s classroom that morning; Mary Ann Jacob, also a school librarian in the building that morning; and Alissa Parker, whose daughter Emilie was one of the 20 children killed.

Ms Carlson, Ms Cunningham, Ms Ehrens, and Ms Jacob, as well as Natalie Barden, whose brother Daniel was also killed on 12/14, are all planning to participate in the November 21 event at Booth Library. Readings from If I Don’t Make It, I Love You will be followed by a Q&A.

Editors Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman are also planning to participate in the program.

In notes about the book, the editors wrote that in looking “at the ripple effect of trauma, it is impossible to ignore these perspectives any longer.

“Our book gives rise to those voices not counted.”

C.H. Booth Library, at 25 Main Street, can be reached at 203-426-4533 for additional information. Copies of If I Don’t Make It, I Love You will be available for purchase and signing the night of the program.

Kirkus Reviews calls If I Don’t Make It, I Love You “an important and horrifyingly thick anthology of mass murders... Highly difficult to read in one sitting, but we must not look away.” The book’s editors and five local residents will participate in a program featuring the September release on November 21 at C.H. Booth Library. —Skyhorse Publishing
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