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Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

Stillwater Rising

by Steena Holmes

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What happens to a town after tragedy strikes, do you ever wonder how the people affected by tragic events like…a student walking into a school with the intent to kill. I can’t even imagine what it would take to get over a tragedy like this. To band together as a town to bring everyone through the grief and pain it would cause.
Stillwater Rises tells this story. The story of how one town was faced with a terrible tragedy, a young troubled man struggling with burdens that wrecked his heart, walked into a school full of children and teachers and shot and killed many and then took his life. A tragedy that cannot be justified or reasoned and only leaves those behind with grief and often anger that they don’t know how carry on from. But with love and help from those capable of giving it, even in unbelievable circumstances is how people carry on after something so horrifying.
But this story is more than just that, it also is a story of how to help those we don’t think about…the victims that are leftover that are forgotten, or even blamed for. The mother of the shooter, a woman no doubt wracked with grief not only for her own child, but every life her child took. The pain and guilt a woman like this might endure is hard to understand. Many may choose to hate her for her child’s choices, that she over everyone else should have been able to control this angry young man; she should have seen this coming and stopped it. It’s a lot of responsibility to put on the shoulders of a grieving mother, responsibility that she herself has already taken and almost never recovers from.
How does a town recover from tragedy like this? The rally together, they support each other and comfort each other. They love through the pain and they remember each one they lost.
This story was a surprise for me; I have spent time recently putting myself in the shoes of parents on both sides of this fence not long before picking up this story to read. So it seemed fitting to read this book with such a refreshing take on the “after” of a tragedy like this. It helped me to see more than just one side of the story. ( )
  Terry_Mitchell | Feb 20, 2015 |
This book is the first in a series about a small town where a school shooting occurs. The three main characters are Jennifer, the mother of a boy killed in the shooting; Charlotte the mayor of the town, who wants to get past the shooting and Julia, the mother of the boy who did the shooting. This book is mainly about Jennifer and her struggle to learn to live her life again after the death of her son. I found this book to be very emotional, in fact I had to put it down occasionally because it was so emotional. I felt so sorry for Jenn as she struggled to learn to help herself and her daughter and husband. It was a fantastic book and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. ( )
  susan0316 | Dec 7, 2014 |
It's hard to imagine the heartbreak of a parent that has lost a child. What's even more unimaginable is when that loss is at the hands of another child. We've all read headlines or listened to stories about the horror of school shootings. Even though we may empathize with the families, it is difficult to imagine the pain the families feel or how they can ever learn to live with their grief and heartbreak. Stillwater Rising is a story of one town's struggle to survive in the face of such tragedy and loss.

Ms. Holmes has presented a story that not only shines a light on the tragedy of school shootings, but shows how the fictional small town of Stillwater Bay bands together to survive. At the heart of the story are three women: the mother of one of murdered children, Jennifer Crowne; the mayor of the town and wife to the school principal, Charlotte Stone; the mother of the murderer, Julia Berry. Jennifer is in deep mourning over the loss of her youngest child, Bobby. She used to be an active member of the community, but is struggling to survive each day without her son. Charlotte is trying to be there for her town, her friends, and her husband. She's also struggling to provide some semblance of normality for the town by being strong. There are some that feel she doesn't understand because she isn't a parent and didn't suffer a direct loss as a result of the tragedy. Julia Berry is another parent struggling with grief, but also with guilt. It is her son that perpetrated this atrocity and she feels that she must be responsible since she was his parent. In addition to her guilt and grief, she is also struggling with a serious health condition. As a direct result of her guilt, she has become a hermit and has confined herself to her home. All three of these women are dealing with their own sense of guilt over that fateful day. One feels the answer is to shutter the school, tear it down, and build a memorial to honor those lost. One feels that closing the school isn't the answer as it will put the teachers and staff out of work and harm the economy of the town. The other is simply overwhelmed by her guilt and feels that she should run away from Stillwater Bay in order to allow the other grieving families peace and space.

Stillwater Rising wasn't an easy read but it was a touching story about recovering from an impossible loss. The characters were realistic and the action wholly plausible. I find it difficult to quantify Stillwater Rising in any specific genre other than contemporary fiction. This isn't a lighthearted read, but it is a powerful story about hope and survival in the face of tragedy. I don't know if this is the type of story for everyone, but it definitely left this reader with the sense that people can work together to overcome their worst nightmare. The healing may not take place in a few months, or even a few years, but with hope and respect for one another it is possible. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Stillwater Deep, as I want to watch this community continue to heal. ( )
  BookDivasReads | Dec 2, 2014 |
Review to follow! 3.5 Stars ( )
  JudithDCollins | Nov 27, 2014 |
This is a powerful story. So with a powerful story you need strong, good characters. They need to be able to evoke emotions that make you want to love/hate, cry/laugh, cheer/scream with them. I may not have done all of this while reading this book but I sure did enjoy reading it. I liked the fact that this story focused on the after affects of the terrible incident with the three women. I have read other stories where it was focused on the students/victims or the before story leading up to the situation but not usually on the mothers. In the beginning, Jenn rubbed me the wrong way. I totally understood her feelings and why she was so mad and jaded but she came off really bitchy. Whereas, Charlotte I found to have a good balance of trying to be Mayor and at the same time a friend. Then there is Julia. She is the shooter's mother. I really felt sorry for her. Yes, I have read stories of school shooting but the stories are usually focused on the survivors and not the parents of the shoot. They also are victims. So what happens to them afterwards. I am sure the same thing that Julia went through in this story. With people egging her place, writing slur words on her house, among other things. The ending was a good one. I look forward to reading more books by this author. ( )
  Cherylk | Nov 16, 2014 |
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"After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte's husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be. As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads--within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter's mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte's relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship"--Page [4] of cover.… (more)

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