Review: If I Don’t Make It, I Love You Edited by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman


Title: If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings

Author: Amye Archer & Loren Kleinman (Editors)

Published: September 3rd 2019, Skyhorse Publishing

Status: Read August 2019 courtesy Skyhorse Publishing/Netgalley


If I Don’t Make It, I Love You is a collection of 60 narratives covering a period of over fifty years written by survivors of school shootings.

Who are the survivors of school shootings?

It’s not just those who are left with physical scars or injuries from the path a bullet took through their bodies, but also those who were huddled behind desks or in storeroom’s for hours wondering when the shooter would burst in, it is those who ran, wondering if they were running away from, or into danger, it is the families who waited, sometimes for hours, to learn if their loved one was safe, injured or dead.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 were killed, and 17 sustained physical injuries, but there were over 3000 students in that school, and over 120 staff, each of whom have parents, siblings, and/or partners, around 6000+ people. That means there were, as a rough estimate, ten thousand people directly affected by the Parkland school shooting, each one a survivor.

Fifty three years after the shooting at the University of Texas, which left fifteen dead, and 31 injured, John still struggles with survivors guilt, and the the effects of PTSD.

“I feel like I could’ve done more. I could’ve helped more people. I feel I was a coward. That day is always with me in my mind. Every day. But I know now that I did the best I could, but there is always a worm of doubt.”

Twenty years after 12 students were murdered, and 24 were physically injured, in the shooting at Columbine high school, Jami fights a panic attack as his kindergartener practices the schools ‘lockdown’ drill.

“My heart still pounds every time I use an elevator, I startle at every loud noise, and the state of heightened vigilance my body lives under leaves me on edge and exhausted, yet unable to rest. Over the years there’ve been hundreds of shootings in schools across the country. I brace myself for the onslaught of flashbacks and vivid nightmares in the weeks and months following each one.”

Seven years after 20 five and six year olds, and 6 staff, were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, Susie Ehren’s daughter, now 12 years old, still says goodnight to the picture of her and her best friend from kindergarten, whose death she witnessed.

“Today my daughter, who witnessed the unspeakable, who lives with that memory every day of her life, and who fights the triggers and knows how to calm her body when it begins to tense up out of fear, struggles with the daily balance to be a ‘normal’ 12 year old.”

A year after the 2018 ‘Parkland’ school shooting, two teenagers could no longer live with their feelings of survivors guilt and died by suicide.

In a year, in seven years, in twenty years, in fifty three years, the survivors of school shootings will still be affected by the tragic events they experienced.

In a year, in seven years, in twenty years, in fifty three years if something doesn’t change there will be hundreds of thousands more survivors of school shootings, you may be one of them.

Thoughts and Prayers are useless

Arming teachers is ridiculous

Gun control is a good start

Improving family support services is important

Improving mental health services is crucial

Confronting, harrowing, heartbreaking, If I Don’t Make It, I Love You is essential reading.


Available from Skyhorse Publishing

Or your preferred retailer via Indiebound I via Booko I Book Depository

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BermudaOnion
    Aug 23, 2019 @ 21:59:19

    It makes me so sad that there’s a need for books like this out there.

    Liked by 2 people


  2. Helen Murdoch
    Aug 24, 2019 @ 05:06:43

    As an educator it makes me sad that I find this book interesting. I’ll look into getting a copy.

    Liked by 2 people


  3. Veronica The Burgeoning Bookshelf
    Aug 24, 2019 @ 09:01:55

    This is heartbreaking. I hope this book does well. It’s a story that needs to be told.

    Liked by 2 people


  4. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Aug 26, 2019 @ 20:55:31

    Damn. Those extracts are heartbreaking.

    Liked by 2 people


  5. *Flora*
    Aug 28, 2019 @ 03:32:50

    Although this is something that I couldn’t read, I’m glad it’s been published and I hope it does well.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. 1girl2manybooks
    Aug 28, 2019 @ 12:24:11

    I applaud you for reading this one. I don’t know if I could! It makes me so sad that there’s a need for something like this to be published.

    Liked by 1 person


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