Vernon Little is 15 when his friend Jesus opens fire on a group of classmates, killing 16 including himself. As one of the few survivors, Vernon becomes the town's scapegoat and is almost immediately charged as an accessory to the crime. This book, told from Vernon's point of view, describes the nightmare of his life in the months following the shooting. Surprisingly, it does so with considerable humor and irony. Vernon lives with his mother; his father disappeared some time before. They have very little money and his mother clearly has emotional issues. Vernon steadfastly maintains his innocence relative to the shootings, but the townspeople are looking for a way to release their anger and grief. Unfortunately Vernon has no idea how to work the legal system, and his mother is pretty useless as well. He befriends a news reporter who appears to be on his side, but turns out to be a conniving jerk, using Vernon's story to his own advantage and fanning the flames of anger in the town. Vernon does several stupid things that increase the authorities' suspicions, and these desperate acts only serve to get him further tangled up in the case.
Vernon God Little is completely different from another in the "school shooting genre," We Need to Talk about Kevin, which was published about the same time. The latter is intense and emotional. Vernon God Little is filled with the wry wit and sexual obsessions of a 15-year-old boy. It's almost funny in parts. About two-thirds of the way through the book the storyline became a bit unbelievable, but the last 30 pages or so resolve things in a fairly satisfying way. Not a bad read. ( )