cover image Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

Kindra Neely. Little, Brown, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-3164-6208-2

After surviving a mass shooting on her Umpqua Community College campus in 2015, teenage Neely grapples with suicidal ideation and various other long-lasting effects on her mental health, as detailed in this harrowing graphic novel memoir, a debut. Following the incident, Neely experiences panic attacks and PTSD, for which she attempts to seek counseling through school services, but there are no therapists available. She laments living in a country where gun violence persists at an alarming frequency; “This is everywhere,” she says upon receiving news notifications reporting further gun violence, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. Though the attack is never explicitly depicted on the page (the closest it gets is a single panel of a gun firing at the start of the event), the entire sequence, rendered in striking, vibrant color, tangibly captures bystanders’ fear and confusion; comparatively, a heart-wrenching scene in which Neely attempts to take her own life is portrayed in muted gray tones. Via realistic dialogue, tense relationship dynamics, and turbulent emotional highs and lows, Neely astutely asserts the importance of hopeful defiance in the face of the numbness and resignation that often accompanies feelings of powerlessness. Back matter includes resources for suicide prevention and anti-gun organizations. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)