Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Streaks of Blue by Jack Chaucer

Title: Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School
Author: Jack Chaucer
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 27th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Four stars.

While camping out with her best friend Candace, Nikki has the strangest dream. A dream that seems to be a warning that social outcast of their high school, Adam, has plans to shoot up the school. Though her friend tells her that it's probably just nothing, Nikki can't shake the bad feelings that it stirs inside her, and she comes up with a simple plan- to become Adam's friend when he might not have any others. But is her friendship too little, too late?


I have to first get off my chest the horrible timing with which I finished this novel. Today, October 21st, 2013, there was a shooting at a Nevada middle school that left two dead, and two injured (as of now). The shooter is believed to be 13 or 14. I am greatly disturbed even more so by this book because it is an issue that clearly is still in need of great discussion.

Nikki is a girl that everyone should be a little bit more like. It's true that I didn't always agree with her choices- befriending two boys who are emotionally unstable enough to plan on a mass murder is obviously extremely dangerous- but she had the cahones to stand up to her school, and her friends who questioned why she'd want to be friends with such a "trailer trash train wreck." I could not help but to think of the wise words of Albus Dumbledore: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Though her best friend was loyal and in the right for being worried, Nikki stood up for what she thought was right, and that's a really hard thing to do in life, high school especially.

School shootings are a widely controversial topic, but Jack Chaucer is gentle and understanding when referencing other shootings- namely Sandy Hook. I was afraid that this book would have been insincere and abuse a hot news story in order to have a plot, but that was definitely not the case. This whole book is gritty and frighteningly real, and driven with emotion.

I did have a few small issues with the book that resulted in its four star review in lieu of five. The conversations between characters had a tendency to feel forced, which led to a small disconnect for me. The end was also patched up rather quickly, but to be honest, I'd rather have it wrapped up a little fast than drag on for too long. And, though this personal opinion isn't reflected in the rating, I'd have really liked to hear more of Adam's story.

It's a sad but true fact that most of us (thankfully) will never know exactly what's going on inside a shooter's head. It's for that reason that things like this need to be taught and discussed: You don't know the life of anyone else. Just because someone is different is no reason to taunt, bully, or pick on them. A little friendship and kindness can go a long way. Embrace differences, and be kind. It's preachy and cliche but god damn it if it isn't true.

Be warned that this book addresses a sensitive topic, contains colorful language, and references drugs and alcohol. The author is donating half of all profits from this book to the Newtown Memorial Fund.

Thank you to Netgalley for my chance to read this.


  1. Ooof. This is the sort of book I like the IDEA of...but will never read because it's too...MUCH for me. Depressing? Sad? I dunno. It is all the bad feels that I know are there because they are important!....but desperately avoid, because bad feels feel bad haha.

    In any case it's important that there are books out there - I know I at least believe that very strongly. And I'm glad that it seems to be a good book regardless of the issues (which is also important!)

    1. It's definitely a complicated bunch of emotions, that's true. It was hard to swallow at times, because it's astounding to me that things like this still happen with semi-regularity.

  2. So glad you found this to be an enjoyable read Jillyn! I too gave it four stars.For me the final 35% really changed my rating for the better.The first 65% of it seemed so slow moving.Towards the end it really got emotional for me.I know it was going to be emotional as I have a friend whose son was at Sandy Hook Elementary that very day.I totally agree with you about the importance of there being books like this out there.

    1. Oh good, someone else who read it. I agree that it definitely did pick up the pace towards the end. I'm so sorry for your friend and her son. That's so traumatic, I can't even begin to imagine. My best friend's sister was in that school as well, doing some volunteering with her high school (from what I gather). Rough stuff to deal with, for sure.

  3. This sounds like a scary but interesting book. The sensitive topic is real and should be handled with care as you mention it is. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for this one.