Thursday, September 22, 2011

She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall

by Misty Bernall

Goodreads Summary:

She Said Yes is a story of growing up in the '90s, of peer pressure, adolescent turmoil, and the tough choices parents make. It is the story of a mother's loss - of dreams and hopes dashed by the cruel reality of death at an early age. But it is also a story of redemption more enduring than the tragedy that cut a young life short.

When 17-year-old Cassie Bernall walked into the library of her suburban high school around 11:00 on the morning of April 20, 1999, she had little more on her mind than her latest assignment for English class: another act of Macbeth. How could she know that by the end of the hour, two classmates would storm the school, guns blazing, and kill as many people as they could, including her?
As the wounded were carried from the bloody scene, several stories of bravery emerged, but one spread faster and farther than the rest. Confronted by her killers, Cassie was asked, "Do you believe in God?" She answered, "Yes."


It took me quite a few years before I finally decided to read this book. I knew it would be emotional-reading a daughter's story, written by her mother, after being lost is such a tragic way. I also knew, because I remembered the Columbine High School shootings from when I was in college, that it would bring back that scared and lonely feeling many of us had. Even when we were watching the footage, crammed around the TV in our apartment, millions of miles away in Iowa, Columbine made many of us feel very alone.

I was really impressed by how Misty Bernall portrayed her daughter's story. She explained how Cassie got to where she was when she was killed-emotionally and spiritually. She didn't pretend her child was perfect, but she knew that there were perfect things about her that the world needed to know. She let others add their own thoughts-Cassie's dad, brothers, and friends-as well as Cassie herself, though diary entires and letters. While there was nothing that could change this from being a sad story, Misty Bernall does an excellent job showing that even in tragedy, there are things that we can all believe in.

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