Linda McDonald has taken over as principal at troubled Guadalupe Middle School in a small farming town in California. She has battled school boards and gang violence, dealt with truancy and the disappearance of one of her students. With her career day celebration, she hopes to inspire all her students to reach for their dreams. But there are many secrets hidden in this small town, and someone with a burning hatred in their soul is bent upon unimaginable violence. As the day wears on, threads pull and tensions rise. Events begin to spiral towards their horrifying and violent conclusion.
This is an extremely well-written suspense novel. Written largely in brief snatches of time, as experienced by the principal characters: McDonald, and her husband, Gordon, who has a hidden past of his own; Tio the school janitor; a top athlete with a fondness for guns, a psychologically scarred sixth grader; a wannabe gang member; a local cop; and others. Each character brings his or her own story into the spotlight as the day goes on, and we slowly learn more about each, never knowing who among them may be the one to initiate a bloodbath.
I found the book incredibly compelling, and in fact, I read the entire thing in more or less one sitting. School shootings being depressingly common in this day and age, the book felt extremely relevant and terrifyingly realistic. By spending so much time with so many different characters, the reader comes to care about most of them, yet you find yourself on edge, waiting for one for one of them to reveal the monster within.
If the subject matter isn’t too disturbing (which is totally understandable), fans of suspense, mystery, and thriller novels will enjoy this book. King has crafted a story that literally had me sitting forward in my chair, unwilling to stop reading until I had reached the end of the book.
An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher via LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.