How to Be Safe
FORMER TEACHER HAD MOTIVE. Recently suspended for a so-called outburst, high school English teacher Anna Crawford is stewing over the injustice at home when she is shocked to see herself named on television as a suspect in a shooting at the school where she works. Though she is quickly exonerated, and the actual teenage murderer identified, her life is nevertheless held up for relentless scrutiny and judgment as this quiet town descends into media mania. Gun sales skyrocket, victims are transformed into martyrs, and the rules of public mourning are ruthlessly enforced. Anna decides to wholeheartedly reject the culpability she's somehow been assigned, and the rampant sexism that comes with it, both in person and online. A piercing feminist howl written in trenchant prose, How to Be Safe is a compulsively readable, darkly funny expos' of the hypocrisy that ensues when illusions of peace are shattered.
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About the Author
This is one of those books you don't know if you can read, and then after you don't know how you lived in a world without it. It's chock full of the things that are killing us: mass shootings, misogyny, the internet, media frenzies, tribalism. And it's so wonderful - so furious and so funny and urgent and needed in this mad ugly space we're sharing with each other. I can't believe this book was written by a man - but I'm so happy Tom McAllister wrote it.--Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World
This darkly humorous primal scream of a novel takes as its subject the madness of modern American life. . . . this book is compelling from start to finish.
Combining a deep character study, prescient satire, and an unfortunately all-too-timely evisceration of U.S. gun culture, McAllister's well-voiced and remarkably observed page-turner is in almost all ways an anti-thriller--itself a comment on the current, terrifying mundanity of similar events.
Haunting.--O, The Oprah Magazine
It's heartening to see a male writer explore the issue [of toxic masculinity] with such nuance. McAllister deserves tremendous credit for his perceptive work here. . . . The author's indictment of a violent, paranoid society is searing.--Shawna Seed
How to be Safe is a blistering indictment of America's insanity: our devotion to guns, our addiction to masculinity, our obsession with muscling our way toward an exceptionalism built upon our own inflated sense of self. Tom McAllister is an exceptionally talented novelist: funny, biting, and bold. I'd be inclined to call him a satirist if not for the fact that every word in this novel is true.--Wiley Cash, author of The Last Ballad