“Welcome to Bell, proud home of Bell Firearms for two hundred years, and where five months ago, the teen heir to the Bell fortune took his father’s guns to school and killed his ex-girlfriend, Cassandra Queen.” —WE CAN BE HEROES PODCAST
Beck and Vivian never could stand each other, but they always tried their best for their mutual friend, Cassie. After the town moves on from Cassie’s murder too fast, Beck and Vivian finally find common ground: vengeance. They memorialize Cassie by secretly painting murals of her around town, a message to the world that Cassie won’t be forgotten. But Beck and Vivian are keeping secrets, like the third passenger riding in Beck’s VW bus with them—Cassie’s ghost.
When their murals catch the attention of a podcaster covering Cassie’s case, they become the catalyst for a debate that Bell Firearms can no longer ignore. With law enforcement closing in on them, Beck and Vivian hurry to give Cassie the closure she needs—by delivering justice to those responsible for her death.
This book was a very emotionally hard read, but also such an important one. There were so many conversations happening in this book that are happening today, but also still need to happen regarding subjects such as gun violence, domestic abuse, grief, victim blaming and more (trigger warnings for all of these subjects). The story begins in the wake of a school shooting where a jilted abusive ex-boyfriend had entered the school and murdered his ex and then also killed himself. The community at large, which is a community built on guns (the largest employer being the shooter’s family, which manufacturers the very firearms he used), has essentially forgotten the victim and thinks of the shooter as a “good kid who made a bad decision.” Cassie’s friends are trying to pick up the pieces of their own lives (one of them also having been shot by the shooter) when they discover that Cassie herself is haunting them – so they decide that they must have vengeance, or at least hold those who were in some ways just as responsible for Cassie’s death as her ex, accountable.
I really enjoyed the fact that not only do we get Beck and Vivian’s perspectives (Cassie’s friends), but also a perspective from Cassie that slowly reveals some of the things that happened in the past, and the perspective of a podcast that is covering all the events happening surrounding Cassie’s death once things kick into motion. This book goes deep into the subjects I mentioned as well as nuances we often see in the media surrounding these types of events (such as those in positions of authority not wanting to follow protocol because they don’t want to damage the accused’ future). It also really shows the journey of Beck and Vivian as they try to process their grief and find a way to live without Cassie. The way McCauley wove this book and brought all the different threads together was done so well and I believe this books contains an important conversation that needs to keep being had.
We Can Be Heroes is out today! Make sure to pick up a copy and give this amazing book a read.