That's Not What Happened

That's Not What Happened

by Kody Keplinger


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From New York Times bestseller Kody Keplinger comes an astonishing and thought-provoking exploration of the aftermath of tragedy, the power of narrative, and how we remember what we've lost.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781338186529
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 08/28/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 56,084
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 2.20(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Kody Keplinger grew up in a small Kentucky town. During her senior year of high school, she wrote her debut novel, The DUFF, which is a New York Times bestseller, a USA Today bestseller, a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and a Romantic Times Top Pick. It has since been adapted into a major motion picture. Kody is also the author of Lying Out Loud, a companion to The DUFF; That's Not What Happened; Run; Shut Out; and A Midsummer's Nightmare, as well as the middle-grade novels Lila and Hadley and The Swift Boys & Me. Kody currently lives in New York City and writes full-time. You can visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

But this, it felt too normal. I found myself scanning the crowd for Sarah, as if I expected to see her waiting for me, the way she had been every other morning I’d walked into this school. Her bright purple backpack slung over one shoulder, a Pop-Tart in hand. And she’d always have an extra one for me, because she knew I skipped breakfast in favor of sleeping in.

Of course, Sarah and her backpack and her Pop-Tarts weren’t there. So I just stood in the middle of the cafeteria with no idea what to do or where to go.

That’s when I saw the plaque, a large, shiny black square hung up on a pillar in the center of the room. It was the only real physical change to this part of the school, and I almost hadn’t noticed it. I took a few steps forward, looking up at it, and wishing I had the strength not to.

The plaque was engraved with their names. All nine victims, listed in alphabetical order. I took them in one at a time, even though I already knew them by heart.

Kevin Brantley
Brenna DuVal
Jared Grayson
Rosi Martinez
Sarah McHale
Richard McMullen
Thomas Nolan
Aiden Stroud
Essie Taylor

And beneath their names was a quote from Emily Dickinson:

“Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.”

I hated that quote, because it was a lie. Even if love were immortality, I couldn’t help thinking that eventually everyone who loved you would be dead, too. And then what did any of it matter? It didn’t. Quotes like those were just there to make the living feel better. Another way to help us ignore the fact that oblivion was inevitable.

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That's Not What Happened 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Holly More than 1 year ago
In the age of school shootings, books like this one reminds everyone what not only what had happened that fateful day but what happens in the years after... It's been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre and Lee is still reeling from losing her best friend, Sarah in the shooting but nothing about how it all went down was what really happened. With Sarah's parents publishing a book about her and what happened that day, Lee knows the real truth but is afraid to say anything for what might happen if the real truth comes out. As you go back and forth between that horrible day and the people who lost their life and what is the truth, the truth will ultimately come out in a way that no one will see coming. I'm torn about this book because using Cassie Bernall's faith story from Columbine into this book felt like an unoriginal story. I get with all the school shootings lately that someone would turn it into a story but using someone else's story for their use just wasn't doing anything for me. Plus, having Lee have this big build up to what the truth really was, I felt let down after realizing what that truth really was. I will give the Author props for writing a story that kept me glued to the pages and I'm definitely going to see what else they had written before giving up on this Author. Thank You to Kody Keplinger for writing a story that made me want to go find other books by you! I borrowed this book from my local Public Library!
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Lee is one of the survivors of Virgil County High School's Massacre three years ago. There have been many different accounts of what happened in there. But the stories are not true. Lee was there! The story about Sarah, the most well-known victim, is especially hard to listen to. She almost has a cult following now. But how does Lee, Sarah's best friend, tell people what really happened in the school during the shooting? My favorite aspect of this book is the very realistic and developed characters. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew these characters! In addition, this is a well-written book. I felt it was very creative how Ms Keplinger told this story.
YoungMensanBookParade More than 1 year ago
That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger is a 300 page book for teens and older. It deals with the grim aftermath of a school shooting, with its victims trying desperately, and a little unsuccessfully, to move on with their lives. Leanne—Lee—Bauer is one of six witnesses that survived the Virgil Country High School Massacre. Her best friend, Sarah McHale, however, was not so lucky. Lee, Sarah, and a loner named Kellie Gaynor were in the bathroom when the shooter came in. In the shuffle to hide, Sarah’s cross necklace was knocked to the floor, and when the shooter saw it, he questioned Sarah, “You think Jesus is watching over you right now?” Saying, “I do. Yes,” Sarah died defending her faith. Or at least that’s what Ashley, who had heard it from her position on the floor outside the bathroom thought she heard. The story inspired thousands of Christians around the nation, with a book published and people everywhere telling Sarah’s story. But only Lee and Kellie knew what really happened in that bathroom. But when Kellie tried to tell the truth, she was run out of the small Indiana town. But three years after the shooting—three years after Kellie left town—Lee knows she has to tell the truth. But the truth is hard to tell when people clung so hard to the rousing story, the pretty lie about Sarah. How can you tell the truth when no one wants to believe it? Lee struggles with the weight of the lie on her shoulders, all on top of trying to finish her last year in high school when the building reminded her of the trauma she survived. Not to mention Miles, another survivor she had a lot of confused feelings for—feelings that were even more complicated by the fact that Lee was on the asexual spectrum, and knew it could mess up any relationship that might be budding between them. Lee tries to put her story, and the story of all of the other survivors, out into the world, but the truth is a heavy burden, and it’s a hard thing to share in a world that doesn’t want to hear it. Review by Stephanie M, age 15, Cleveland Area Mensa
Readingjunky More than 1 year ago
Three years ago nine people were shot and killed at Virgil County High School when one lone shooter fired a gun for a reason not understood by anyone. Six students survived and are now living with feelings most of them can't even express. Lee decides that writing down an account of what happened might help answer some of her questions. One thing she knows is the death of her best friend Sarah has been misunderstood by everyone in Virgil County, even Sarah's own parents. Since a book is about to be released placing Sarah on the pedestal of a martyr, Lee decides it is time to tell the real story of what happened in the girls' bathroom that fateful day. Thinking it might be easier if the other survivors tell their versions of what happened, Lee asks Denny, Miles, Ashley, and Eden to write letters that she can include with hers. She wishes most that she could ask Kellie to share her story, too, but after the way people treated her, Kellie left town and Lee doesn't know where she is. Kellie's story is the key to revealing what happened that day. Can Lee find her and will she agree to add a letter to that will answer everyone's questions? Or, should Lee just forget the whole thing? Author Kody Keplinger weaves a twisted tale involving Lee and the other survivors. With school violence becoming all too common, THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENED will strike a cord with readers. Keplinger keeps the focus of the story on the small group of survivors and the nine victims, not on the shooter which gives this school shooting tale a different angle.
Lisa_Loves_Literature More than 1 year ago
I don't know what it is, whether it is because I am a school librarian, used to be a teacher, etc., or what, but I am drawn to YA books about school shootings. I like that the majority of them tend to have something unique about them, something besides just telling what is a horrible story like the news would. I've read stories where we get to know the shooter. I've read stories about the siblings of the shooters. This book had two things that I really liked. First, I like that not once did they actually say the name of the shooter. One thing the character said they did not want to do was give that person any more attention or recognition. The other thing that I really liked about this was the whole theme or maybe you'd say its plot. I like that this book was looking at what really happened. Not the stories that get passed on to the media, by people who don't know what actually happened, or mistake what happened for something more inspiring or selfless than it may actually have been. I always enjoy hearing the "real" story about historical events or people. You know, the things left out of textbooks, the things that don't sound good, or the things that would mess up everyone's love of a person or event if it was told. Those are the things that make people or events seem real to me. And this book does exactly that. It makes the people who survived real. Not saints, not SURVIVORS, but just real people, real kids. Even if one of the stories could possibly ruin another person's epiphany they had that caused them to change their life and be happier ever since the shooting. Even if one of the stories makes the person who has to tell it worried others won't look at him the same, that they'll see him as a coward instead of the hero that the original story makes him out to be. The book makes you think though, in the end, with a girl who has passed away, is it such a good thing to ruin the image that her family and countless others in the community may have now taken as something that can be salvaged from such a horrible event? I don't know. That's a hard one. But you have to also think about if that image, that story, has ruined the life of someone else who tried to tell the truth of that situation. In that case, it might have been good thing to not let the wrong story take on quite the life that it did. Of course there are similarities to the real school shootings that have occurred. But I don't feel that the author meant in any way to call into question those real people. I think she was just giving examples that would make the story seem real. This was an intense story, a sad story, and even an inspirational story in its own way. One I recommend and will purchase for my school library.