Review: That Saturday at Mendorff’s

I posted the following review on Because this novel examines such an important topic, I’m posting it here, too.

What happens after a tragedy?

Too often we read of another mass shooting–whether it’s Roseburg or Charleston, Aurora, or Newtown, Tucson. Yet how often do we think of the survivors? How often do we follow them in their long physical and emotional recoveries? To say, “You lived” is not enough. In That Saturday at Mendorff’s, Lucy Ke follows the lives of the survivors–both the victims of a shooting at a fictional bookstore and the gunman’s family members (what do you do if your husband, your father, is a murderer–and what do others do to you?).  Mendorff’s is a bustling community hub where people of all ages come to shop for books, to hang out, to get a snack at the café, when Cy McNulty, angry about an earlier interaction with a clerk, walks in carrying three guns and starts to shoot. Ke skillfully weaves the novel between minutes after the massacre, years before, days before, and a long look back after 10 years, as journalist Mollie Dobbs is tasked with tracking down the people who are left for a follow-up story. Many find it difficult to discuss, and even the heroic officer who shoots McNulty and ends the bloodshed leads a life that, a decade later, is charmed only on the surface. Ke examines the survivors, their guilt and anguish, their isolation from the lives, and sometimes the people, they could not go back to, and their search for some way–and some reason–to go on, to find what peace they can. The devastating portraits include two women who lost children that day–one, a grandson; the other, a nephew–and survivor Jeb Creel, who envisions a radical path toward resolution. That Saturday at Mendorff’s offers a thought-provoking investigation of the aftermath, its own havoc, where the underlying question remains: What are we going to do about it?