Run, Hide, Fight Back by April Henry
Six teens must band together to survive after a shooting breaks out.
When a deadly shooting breaks out in a Portland shopping mall, a diverse group of teens ends up trapped behind a store’s security shutter. To her own surprise, seventeen-year-old Miranda finds the others looking to her as their leader. But she’s hiding a big secret—and she’s not the only one. The group has only three choices—run, hide, or fight back. The wrong decision will have fatal consequences.
I read Run, Hide, Fight Back in one day. It’s a short book and a very quick read. The book is told in the normal way, but there are also texts, reports, and social media posts. Definitely check out the mall map and make sure you read the author’s note on all the research that went into this book.
It seems like a normal day at the mall for a group of teens. They aren’t friends. Some worked at the mall, others were there shopping (or shoplifting). The focus is on these teens, but there is also the major plot. There are terrorists in the mall and they started shooting at random.
Amina is working at Culpeppers and decides to close the metal door that closes off the store. She is able to get a few others in before it gets all the way down. Grace had just seen her mom shot and killed. Javier was hit in the leg. Cole helped get them in. And Miranda got in just in time. She was trying to get Parker to come in, but he couldn’t find his little sister. The group stuck in Culpeppers are as different as they can be. Miranda is addicted to Oxycontin. She was shoplifting to pay for more and was starting to go into withdrawals. Grace has an illness that is discussed more. Amina is Muslim and Miranda accused her of being a terrorist. Javier was undocumented and using a false social security number to work. Cole was the youngest brother in his family. His two older brothers were vets. Cole was racist and was telling the group how his brothers filled him in on all the dangers in our government. Yes, he was that type of guy. The one you see writing tons of crazy sounding posts on social media all the time.
The terrorists end up being white, US citizens. They were part of a far right group that wanted to change the country. While they are there taking hostages and killing people, there are also small parts of a massive gold heist going on. The shooters are wearing suicide vests, so it’s almost impossible to fight back. They have locked the hostages in with no way to get out of the mall. They send one boy out with flash drives to spread their message.
The book goes back and forth between areas and characters during this mass shooting. There were a lot of discussions on how to get out, how to fight back, if they should stay hidden, or what else is there to do. Somehow, Miranda decides that she needs to make sure her new friend group all gets out together. But as the first page states, not everyone will make it out alive.
Warnings: Hurtful comments towards an immigrant and the Muslim religion. Serious hate towards possessions and the US government. Mass shooting. A lot of blood and death. Drug addiction. A serious illness and the distrust of US treatment for it. Loss of a parent. Sexual favors for drugs/money. There are probably more. It’s a pretty intense book, but also needed with all the far right extremist crimes and mass shootings we’re having in the US.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to Macmillan/Henry Holt for sending me a physical arc to review.
Have you read Run, Hide, Fight Back? Have you read any other books on mass shootings? Do you think it’s important to have stories like this out there or do you think it’s harmful?