Students are milling around, some heading toward their seats, others exchanging summer gossip, and others blatantly ignoring instructions to come to order. Inside the auditorium Autumn chats with Sylv about her upcoming audition at Julliard, while out on the track, Claire and Chris run side by side, encouraging each other and commenting about future plans.
Three other students are missing from the required assembly. Tomas and Fareed are jimmying the lock on Principal Trenton's file cabinet in search of a student's file. Supposedly in detention, the two are using the opportunity of an empty office to do a bit of snooping to find why Tyler Browne is coming back to school. Tyler is the other student not attending the principal's lecture. He has been busy, and everyone is about to find out why.
Tyler enters the auditorium after the student body has settled in. He carries multiple weapons and has ammunition strapped across his chest. In seconds he takes control of the huge room, ordering a terrified student to chain the only remaining unlocked door. He has already secured entrances and exits throughout the school. He has the students, staff, and teachers of Opportunity High trapped and he begins to fire.
Claire and Chris hear the shots as they run around the track. Tomas and Fareed also hear the crack of gunfire as they flip through the office files. After their initial shock, they take action to alert authorities, but Opportunity High School serves an extended area and is located out in the middle of nowhere. How long will it take for the police and rescue units to respond? How many of their friends will survive the shots being fired? Why has Tyler breached the ordinarily safe atmosphere of their school determined to kill and injure anyone who stands in his way?
Author Marieke Nijkamp uses four alternating voices to tell the frightening story of a mere fifty-four minutes in the lives and deaths of those trapped in this Alabama high school. Readers who have heard news stories of such events will truly understand the fear and tragedy of a school shooting. Powerful details and raw emotions will stay with readers long after the last page.