In the aftermath of the Columbine High School tragedy, a story came out about Cassie Bernall, a young woman who allegedly professed her belief in God in the moments before she was shot dead. I read She Said Yes a couple years back when I was around thirteen, and thought it was one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. Then, back in April, I found out that Cassie’s “martyrdom” was all a lie, and I wanted to read the book again to mind myself of exactly what Bernall lied about.
Once I finished the biography/autobiography, I started discussing what really happened with my father, and we both came to the conclusion that, (a) as Bernell said, she wrote this book just weeks after her daughter’s death and didn’t have all the information about what really happened, and (b) if she did know the truth maybe, just maybe, Bernall needed a reason that made her daughter’s death the teeniest, tiniest easier to deal with, that made her daughter’s death seem like it was serving a higher purpose.
Other than that, and now that I know the truth, its hard to understand why I was so enamored with this book. It’s very preachy, very preachy. Bernall says she doesn’t want it to be that way, but it has this kind of God-transformed-my-daughter’s-life-what-has-he-done-for-you kind of air. In addition, her constant references to Marilyn Manson, goths and witchcraft as nothing but inherently evil really, really annoyed me. Talk about judging before learning.
Still, I couldn’t help but turn the pages and want to know more about Cassie. I guess that’s part of the problem; there isn’t enough detail and I felt like Bernall held back a lot to make her daughter appeal like, well, a martyr.
- Bernall, Misty. She Said Yes: the Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. Print. 160 pgs. ISBN: 9780743400527. Source: Library.