Reviewed by Marshall Hughes
She Said Yes by Misty Bernall
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Amidst the bloodbath that was Columbine, 1999, Cassie Bernall was asked one very simple question about her faith. Her answer cost her her life.
Many tragedies throughout human
existence have spawned heroes - some have spawned martyrs. One well-documented
American tragedy of the not-too-distant
past is the 1999 Columbine (Littleton, Colorado) High School killings,
when seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into their high school
and started shooting. They killings didn’t stop until Klebold, Harris
and 13 others were dead.
Seventeen year old junior Cassie Bernall was in the school library late one morning working on a Macbeth assignment when the carnage started. Klebold and Harris walked up to Cassie, then one of them pressed a gun against her head and asked her a simple question: “Do you believe in God?”
She said yes.
It cost her her life.
Cassie’s mother, Misty Bernall, writes about the story of her daughter’s life, a story which reveals that Cassie herself had actually started down a path very similar to that of her eventual killers. The irony of who she had been and who she had become contrasted with who it was that killed her is hard to miss. She had gone from hate (including plans to kill her parents) to love, from dark to light, from goth to God.
While not a writer by trade, Misty Bernall lets the reader in on the gamut of emotions that the Bernalls felt for their daughter in their 17 years together, whether it be love, compassion, concern, forgiveness or just plain exasperation. Cassie had caused her parents great worry and pain for some years, but things were clearly looking brighter.
“She Said Yes” is a book which shows one aspect of the human condition. It is not a theological discussion, it is a book which believers and non-believers can largely agree upon and discuss. It is not necessarily a must-read, but it is an interesting book that will fill in some of the blanks on America’s third largest school killing, and it will let you feel a bit of the tragedy that was Columbine.
The book was written in late 1999, just months after the tragedy, and is available in used book stores and on-line at various sites. (In the interest of full disclosure, later investigation has some believing that it was not Cassie that the gunmen questioned before shooting, that it was another student who was asked the question and then shot. One witness to the shooting has testified that it was indeed Cassie who was questioned. This uncertainty does not make the book any less interesting, nor the story of Cassie’s life less compelling.)
Marshall Hughes is a former sports writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. For most of the past 22 years he has taught English in Japan. He has taught at the university level in America, Japan and China. Among his hobbies are sports, traveling and photography. He has been to 41 countries and is always hoping to go somewhere new. He is an award-winning photographer in both Japan and America. His bi-lines include The Washington Post, The Pacific Daily News (Guam), The Contra Costa Times and several sports publications.