Another active shooter. More students dead. Yesterday the news reported 22 school shootings since 2018 began.
22 in 20 weeks. Let that sink in for a moment. I still haven’t fully absorbed it.
Predictably, we see the dance of legislators, victims, and big gun businesses begin once again. Hope of change fades.
When asked “Was there a part of you that was like ‘This isn’t real,’ ‘This would not happen in my school.’” one of the students shook her head with a sickening smirk. Clearly she wasn’t happy, it was more an expression when you’re overloaded and in disbelief. She said “No there wasn’t. It’s been happening everywhere… I thought eventually it would happen here too.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/18/us/student-on-texas-school-shooting/index.html
It breaks my heart.
Then I think of my 11 year-old son.
Then I think of the all the kids in his class that just graduated elementary school with him.
Then I recall the “yellow alert” his school campus faced this newly completed school year where an outside lingering interloper caused the school to go into a semi-lock-down.
What’s more shocking, my son didn’t tell me when it happened. Nor did the school. My son mentioned it months later. The school never did. It’s as if this is “normal” and not needed to be mentioned.
It’s not normal. It’s not right.
But policy is the adult world. My mind goes back to the children. How can we help them? What can we say?
Eerily, my latest novel, the Weun Academy: The Shadow Maker is all about terror at school. It’s sickening (literally) how timely and topical it has become. I want to bring children a message of hope while securing them with tools to manage the growing chaos.
They are not helpless. They can become the instruments needed to counter what’s happening. Reviewers have called out key aspects of the book’s messaging:
“The curve in character development is calculated and it is interesting to follow the protagonist as he quickly learns to think beyond himself and his immediate world.” – C. Sia
“(The main character Eisah) took charge of the situation, took a chance and didn’t back down when his plans didn’t work. This story talks about things that teenagers face and have to fight every day. Author Michael Zummo addresses these issues with care and takes on these sensitive topics with diligence.” – R. Tanveer
“School violence, bullies, and adults who don’t seem to get it at all are a current problem in schools all over the world so the book definitely will hit a nerve with readers from the intended target group. It is a great, exciting story that shows how easily things can be misunderstood when you don’t take the time to ask questions about what REALLY happened.” – K. Anasi
But the one that really hits home, that makes me feel like I’m doing something right is this:
“And yes, without being preachy, there is an agenda implicit throughout this story, one much needed in our world at large: helping students to deal with and bring to an end (to) the recent horrific trend in school violence. This is an engaging, fast-moving, and richly imaginative tale, with characters both likeable and unlikeable, but often relatable, particularly by younger readers.” – A.L. Peevey
“(A story and agenda) much needed in our world at large…”
I hope it’s the right messages at the right time. It seems the case. Now I just have to convince others to help me spread this message.
In the meantime, I’m going to spend some more time with my son.