Four Three Two One by Courtney C. Stevens
In this contemporary YA novel, a girl reunites with the three other survivors of a bus bombing that killed nineteen people, and together they face the secrets, struggles, and emotional warfare that each has been enduring.
Golden “Go” Jennings wasn’t supposed to be on Bus 21 the day it blew up in New York City. Neither was her boyfriend, Chandler. But they were. And so was Rudy, a cute stranger whom Go shared a connection with the night before. And Caroline, a girl whose silence ended up costing nineteen people their lives.
Though it’s been a year since the bombing, Go isn’t any closer to getting over what happened. Since Chan shuts down every time Go brings that day up, she decides to reach out to Rudy. Just like that, the two fall right back into their easy, deep connection. Facing the past head-on with Rudy has opened up a small window of healing Go never thought was possible. So she makes an impulsive decision: Round up the rest of the survivors and head to New York City. There they will board an art installation made of the charred remnants of Bus 21.
But things are never easy when it comes to rehashing the past. Uniting the four stirs up conflicting feelings of anger and forgiveness and shows them that, although they all survived, they may still need saving.
This was a free proof provided by the publisher but the review is all my own, not paid or whatever.
Now that that is out of the way… When I saw this as a book blurb before it was even published I was intrigued. Four people survive a bombing, each has secrets they keep and they are all building up to going back into a remade Bus that exploded, that is now an exhibition.
I don’t usually read books about terrorism (domestic or otherwise), but I found the clashing of lives something I wanted to read. And Four Three Two One was very powerful. At the beginnign we get the “bus explodes” chapter, then we meet our characters months after the explosion and days before the exhibition opens.
There a lot of concepts happening here. There is the whole “what is love” question in there, and if the things that happen to us make us, defines us, or how they affect us. But there is also the survivors guilt being explored and how that redefines us, and how much it can affect not the survivor’s life but the lives of those around that person.
As all five main characters come closer and closer to getting to Accelerant Orange and to facing Bus 21, things get more and more tense. The first question that should probably be answered is, can they step inside the bus? It is known that people that had an aircrash may never fly again, or in this case never get on a bus again. So can they? (I won’t say if they can or can’t, that’d be a spoiler, but it is a question that sticks around). But it isn’t the only question to answer. There is a why are you (each survivor) going to the exhibition? What are you holding back? What is that “secret” you’re trying to protect everyone else from?
We know the “secret” one of them holds from early on, but that doesn’t prepare you for the other secrets that come up to the surface as they share a ride towards New York, and towards the exhibition of Bus 21.
No, this isn’t a popular book, sadly it is overlooked. But it is interesting and powerful and worth reading (it is also a relatively light read, in that it is easy to read, the writing flows easily but the topic is intense, there is talk about suicide, and well, terrorism). However, I enjoyed the execution of it, and how much feeling there was in it (and I’m not always fond of adding too much feeling to stories).
Go read it, give it a chance.