Reviewed by Jasmine Sov, age 17

How We Ricochet by Faith Gardner

Betty Lavelle’s life is going alright—she’s doing well at her internship, her older sister Joy is working at a café, and her mom just started a new job. So when they all go to the mall to pick up some clothes, they’re not expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen.

Then someone opens fire…

After the mass shooting, Betty knows the three of them are lucky to survive—but their wounds aren’t physical. Within days, formerly assertive Joy refuses to go out at all, completely changed from the vibrant spirit she used to be. Meanwhile, Betty’s mom throws herself into gun safety activism, appearing on news channels and attending protest after protest. Some days, it feels like she cares more about gun safety than she does her own daughters. Wanting to know how to spot the signs of future acts of violence, Betty seeks out and befriends the brother of the shooter, Michael. But the effects of the shooting are lasting, and as time goes on it becomes clearer and clearer that nothing will ever be the same.

It’s sad that this book is incredibly timely. It states many relevant truths, like how it shouldn’t be normal for shootings to be reported on the news on a regular basis. I initially thought that How We Ricochet would be from the perspective of someone who loses a loved one in a mass shooting, but instead it focuses on the effects on a family of survivors. In different ways, all three women seek to prevent this kind of event from happening again on varying scales. Joy, who gets severe PTSD, refuses to leave the house and insists that she can no longer trust the safety of other spaces. Betty becomes obsessed with finding out the “signs” of a mass shooter and befriends Michael to try and spot those patterns to protect her family. Their mom becomes an outspoken gun safety activist, spending most of her time attending gun safety organization meetings and only talking about gun control (even in conversation with complete strangers). It’s a poignant look into how traumatic events affect people in the long run, although I found it a bit more difficult to connect with Betty. If her personality traits and interests before the shooting had been elaborated on further, it might have been easier to understand her character arc throughout the book.

4 stars of 5 stars

Find this book in our catalog: How We Ricochet

Catalog Number: YA FIC GARDNER,F

329 pages