Project X by Jim Shepard

Project XEdwin Hanratty and his only friend, Flake, are two marginalized 8th graders who spend their miserably long days at school dodging the twin bullets of bullying jocks and sarcastic teachers. Edwin, who worries chronically about getting his locker open, spends many sleepless nights reminiscing about his childhood, when he felt connected to his parents and school was a place he enjoyed going. As Flake’s unstable temper grows shorter, he begins to convince Edwin that the only way to solve their problems is to kill themselves with his father’s guns and take as many people as they can with them. Edwin loves his parents and little brother Gus, but can’t see his future ever being anything but wretched. But when the moment of truth comes, and the gun is in his hands, Edwin is surprised and humiliated by his own extreme reaction…This is one for parents and teens to read together, to start discussions that help us avoid another Columbine. There’s powerful stuff between these pages–don’t be fooled by the short length. It really packs an emotional wallop.

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