Give a Boy a Gun

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Give a Boy a Gun
Give a Boy a Gun cover.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author Todd Strasser
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date
September 1, 2000
Media type Print
Pages 128
ISBN 978-0689811128

Give a Boy a Gun is an epistolary novel for young adults by Todd Strasser. First published in 2000, the novel imitates the true crime genre. The storyline, which is constructed by quotations made by characters in this fictional book, almost mimics and is based on the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. It mostly focuses on the events and social circumstances that can lead to a school shooting.


The two main characters of this book are Brendan Lawlor and Gary Searle, both students at Middletown High School. Gary has been a local in the town since second grade, while Brendan had just arrived. The two soon become fast friends and watch out for each other as they get bullied by the football players at Middletown, who constantly calling them "fags" or other rude, degrading terms. Both boys become darker and angrier as the years go on, delving deeper and deeper into the use of mind altering substances, such as acid and alcohol. Along with Allison, Gary's girlfriend, and Ryan, a mutual acquaintance, the four would visit an old abandoned shack to get high. Gary, a science whiz, develops a powerful homemade bomb. As the problems increase, Gary and Brendan steal semi-automatic guns from a neighbour.

Brendan leaves a cryptic message for Emily, letting her know that there will be trouble at the dance and not to attend. At the dance, Gary rigs all of the doors with bombs so whoever opens them will explode. They enter the gym where the dance was being held, wearing masks; they use their guns to shoot out the lights before securing all the hands of the attendees with plastic ties. Then, they walk over to the quarterback for the football team, named Sam, and debate about what they should do with him. They eventually decide to shoot out his kneecaps so he will be unable to play football ever again. Gary and Brendan then shoot around the gym, scaring students and injuring others. One of the football players, Dustin, manages to get free and unties a few of the kids. Gary commits suicide while Brendan gets beaten into a coma by the football players. Brendan suffers irreversible brain damage from the beating, from which he may never wake up, and the football players who beat him up are all put on trial for attempted murder.

The book ends with Denise Shipley, Gary's stepsister, wondering if Gary knew if there were other options than the shooting and swearing she will always treat others with respect, no matter what, and teach others to do the same. She also shares her belief that semi-automatic weapons should be outlawed and handguns should be only in the hands of law enforcers.


  • Gary Searle – one of the shooters, highly intelligent for his age
  • Brendan Lawlor – the other shooter, and leader
  • Ryan Clancy – a friend of both Gary's and Brendan's
  • Allison Findley – Gary's on-and-off girlfriend and Brendan's friend at Middletown High School
  • Terminx – Brendan's screen-name
  • Blkchokr – Allison's screen-name
  • Rebooto – Ryan's screen-name
  • Dayzd- Gary's screen-name
  • Cynthia Searle – Gary's mother
  • Emily Kirsch – a former friend of Brendan's
  • Brett Betzig – a friend of Brendan's from Springfield
  • Julie Shore – a friend of Brendan's from Springfield
  • Beth Bender – Middletown High School counselor
  • Paul Burns – a football player at Middletown High School
  • Sam Flach - a football player at Middletown High School
  • Deidre Bunson – a "popular" girl at Middletown High School
  • Ruth Hollington - Gary's fourth-grade teacher at Middletown Elementary School
  • Steve McEvoy – Gary's sixth-grade teacher at Middletown Middle School
  • Katherine Sullivan – Brendan's sixth-grade teacher at Springfield Middle School
  • Kit Conner – a neighbor of the Lawlors' in Springfield
  • Dick Flanagan – Brendan's ninth-grade English teacher at Middletown High School
  • F. Douglas Ellin – a biology teacher at Middletown High School
  • Allen Curry – principal of Middletown High School
  • Jack Phillips – a neighbor of Brendan's
  • Chelsea Baker - a new girl
  • Dustin Williams - a neighbor of Brendan's and football player